It is not only the truth that comes out of children’s mouths… Sometimes they also tell lies. How can you prevent this unpleasant habit from taking hold and ruining the relationship you have with your child?
You would never have imagined that your son or daughter would one day engage in the art of lying. That it happens to others, so be it. But to you? no! And yet… the vast majority of children lie. Whether it’s to escape punishment, to avoid disappointing those around them, to attract attention, to make themselves feel better, or to hide a situation that makes them feel ashamed or that has hurt them. In short, they hide or distort reality for exactly the same reasons as adults. And these reasons usually have nothing to do with vice, lack of moral sense, or because they have received a bad education. The problem with the small child is different. For them, the boundaries between fantasy and reality are still blurred. He adopts what specialists call “magical thinking” which allows him to enter a character and modify real life. This, in his eyes, is not a lie.
If your toddler tells you that he got a top grade on his dictation… when in fact he didn’t make the average, before you consider cracking down, try to understand what lying means to him. If he hid a bad result because he didn’t want to hurt your feelings, punishing him in the name of morality would not be very productive.
What to do?
Tell him that anyone can make a mistake and that you will try to find out together what happened. As soon as he hears that you still love him even though he failed the exercise and lied to you, start the second part of your intervention. Explain that hiding it will not change his grade and that you would prefer him to tell you the truth. If they have concealed the facts to avoid punishment, tell them that you know what they have done. If he admits to the story, it is best to value this rather than blame him. But if he persists, be strict and make it clear that it is not so much the mistake that you are punishing, but the fact that he does not admit it.
A child’s lie, especially if it is repeated, is a source of anxiety and real suffering for the parents. If this happens, ask yourself if they have found this solution to protect themselves from an overly emotional or harsh reaction from you. This could be a good first step towards a more open relationship between you.