All the children lie
They don't always do it, of course, but on more than one occasion in their early childhood they will say something that is not true or will try to blame something bad they have done on others.
It is not uncommon for children at the age of six or seven to say phrases such as "I was not," "my little brother will have painted the wall," or "yes, I ate the sandwich at recess" when they know they are lying.
Honesty is a value that all parents try to instill in their children, and that is why many wonder how to teach a child not to lie . We will give the answer below.
What to do to teach a child not to lie?
Lying is a common behavior in childhood. All children lie at some point, either very innocently, without being aware of it, or simply because they want to hide something wrong that they have done. There are even children who amuse themselves by lying, trying to confuse other children and even adults simply for the satisfaction of fooling others. Obviously, this last case is not usually very common, but of course the lie can seem somewhat playful.
Whatever the reason a child lies, if it becomes a very common behavior, it can lead to problems on a social level. A child who lies all the time can become the least trustworthy child in her class, causing her to have no friends because her peers are afraid that she will cheat and hurt them. As innocent as a lie may be, if abused, it can become a tool that damages the trust of those around us.
While the consequences may not be as severe, it is clear that lying is not a good thing. In fact, in most societies this act is considered immoral. This is why all parents want to instill in their children the values of honesty and sincerity.
However, it is not possible to teach these values without being a role model . Young children are easily influenced, both good and bad, and their parents, older siblings, and other children at school serve as role models. If a lot of lies are told at home and at school, children will end up learning that lying is okay, or at least that it is legitimate to do it sometime.
Why do children lie?
There are many reasons for a child to lie. It is true that there are those who tell lies for the simple fact of having fun, deceiving their parents and classmates to make them behave in the desired way, or confuse them. However, this is rarely the norm, and there are often other reasons.
As we have discussed, adults and other peers with whom children have contact exert an important influence on their behavior . If the child sees that adults lie constantly, lying will not be seen as something ethically questionable, but as just another legitimate behavior. This is why you will not have as many personal restrictions when it comes to hiding or misrepresenting the truth.
Another reason a child may lie, especially to young children, is that they need to feel accepted . It may be due to a great lack of self-esteem, causing the child, who does not trust himself, is pushed to exaggerate his abilities or say things about him that are not true. For example, it may be that a child feels inferior compared to the rest of his peers because he does not have a dog and, since he wants to be accepted, lies saying that he does have one.
Children also lie to adults, but the reason is quite different. In this case, they often lie to hide something bad that they have done or that they think is bad . Here there is also a lack of self-esteem, but also of confidence towards adults, fear of severe punishment and of parents. The child may feel so insecure that he does not know if what he is doing is good enough and, since they are afraid that, even after doing it well, his parents will see it as something bad, he prefers to keep quiet or lie.
How to stop the lies?
One thing to keep in mind is that age is an important factor when considering lying in children. Up to the age of six, children have quite a bit of trouble differentiating between reality and fantasy . For this reason, it is advisable to start working from that age, since you cannot teach them not to lie without being aware that they are doing it.
To teach a child not to lie, the first thing to do is to know the reason why he has done it. As we have seen in the previous section, there are various reasons that push a child not to tell us the truth. We cannot instill in them honesty and sincerity without understanding why they have done it, since simply telling them "it is wrong to lie" is a lesson devoid of content. We should focus on why he is lying, not on the lie itself, nor take it personally.
If the reason he lies to us is because he is afraid of our reaction, it is possible that the problem is in our way of educating . Parents that are too severe and tough, far from fostering a strong and resistant character in their offspring, what they do is make them very insecure. He is afraid to tell the truth for fear of being punished and, therefore, prefers to lie. You lie, but you feel very bad, and you fear that you will feel worse.
The problem here is quite deep, since the lie is a symptom that the educational style we are using is not the most appropriate. The idea is not that we tolerate lying or misbehavior, but of course the most appropriate thing is to lower the degree of severity. If he does something wrong, he should receive a penalty, but let's not abuse it or ignore that there are many good things a child does.
If it is due to lack of self-esteem, either because you feel intimidated or inferior to how your peers are or because of a problem at home, it is necessary to go to a psychologist. It is not that parents cannot help their child to have better self-esteem, in fact, they can do so by highlighting his strengths and helping him overcome his weaknesses. However, with the guidance of the child psychologist, we will be able to improve the child's self-esteem with techniques with scientific evidence.
When it is discovered that the child has lied, it is very important not to accuse him of being a liar, even in an affectionate or joking tone . Nor should he be ridiculed or reacted in a harsh and angry way. What should be asked, in a calm and respectful tone, is why he has lied knowing that this is not right. Humiliation, teasing, and derogatory labels will only make the problem worse, especially if the reason you are lying is related to a lack of self-esteem.
Of course, in addition to understanding what it is that has pushed the child to lie and trying to understand it, there is also being an example for him. As we have mentioned, both parents and older siblings are an important role model for the little ones, who imitate everything that the older ones do. If older children misbehave, young children will misbehave too. To avoid that the child sees telling lies as legitimate behavior, it is best not to do it.
It is essential to make them understand what the social consequences of lying are , beyond the punishments that may exist. They must understand that not being honest with others will cause them to mistrust them. This will cause them to have problems making friends, and with this they will not have an adequate social network to support them. It can also encourage revenge behaviors, making others see us as legitimate lying to whoever lied to them first, giving them their own medicine
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