HOW SHOULD YOU HANDLE A CHILD WHO IS LYING?

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A child who lies can be a cause for concern for most parents and teachers. They feel let down and helpless and often are clueless about how to deal with such situations. But the truth is such cases do occur and quite often. A stray case of lying can be dealt with mild recrimination but if lying is growing into a habit, then serious steps ought to be taken to nip this bad habit. However, it is not as easy as it sounds as a lot of care needs to be taken to make the steps effective without harming the child emotionally.

  1. Loss of privileges – As with other ways of disciplining, loss of privileges would definitely reduce the habit of lying in children. Establish certain consequences of lying and make the child aware of them. Also carry them through so that the child knows that you are serious. This could be simple ways like no television, no playtime, no dessert, no gadgets or no storytime. The point is the time they would normally spend on these past times should be spent on reflecting on why they lied.
  2. Have a meaningful conversation – You need to know why the child lied to you in the first place. No child is comfortable in doing so as it stirs uncomfortable emotions. Be gentle when you broach the subject and prompt your child to speak. If the child is reluctant to speak then explain that the loss of privileges remains until he or she has a talk with you about what made them lie. But do remember not to cut short the time simply because he or she has come clean. If you have taken away a privilege for a period of one week then carry it through. But if he or she is hesitant to converse with you about it then extend the period. Sounds cruel? Well, it pays in future.
  3. No lectures or sentimental talks – Lectures don’t help and will not teach your child a lesson. Talk to him or her in the most natural way possible. Avoid asking ‘whys’ and simply tell the ill effects of lying. Also talk about how valuable trust is and how he or she needs to build up trust.
  4. Practice first – As with all good habits that you wish to inculcate in your child, practice not lying yourself. If you give in and lie then the child feels it is ok for him or her to lie too. So be honest and sometimes own up your mistakes so that the child knows that it is ok to be wrong sometimes.  
  5. Don’t bring it up later – Once the lesson has been taught to the child, you can reinforce generally but please don’t bring up past mistakes in your conversations. You can use examples of real life situations but do not use sentences which show that you mistrust your child because of his or her past lies.

Lying among children can become a habit if not checked right at the beginning. This can be dealt with by both the parents as well as the teacher. Most children tell harmless lies now and then which become less as they grow older. While this is also not a good habit, one need not be extremely firm about them. It is the well thought out lies that need to be taken seriously and dealt with accordingly. 

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