momtoangels's picture
momtoangels

Liar,liar, pants on fire...

For 3 years, we have been dealing with how do you get a kid to stop lying? He's now 8 1/2 and still lying - about everything; from trying not to get in trouble, to trying to make himself seem ultra important, to a super expensive toy that "Mom is gonna buy me".
I view honesty and integrity as one of the most important traits in a human. However, Dad says he wants the kiddo to stop lying, but when he does, simply "talks" to him and tells him he's disappointed in him. Should we be more strict? Is this normal kid behavior, as Dad suggests? Am I expecting too much? It bothers me that he genuinely doesn't seem to care who he hurts with his lies.
I know there's others out there who've dealt with this - did anything work for you, or backfire in your face? HELP!



acitez's picture
acitez

About age five, kids do this positive thinking thing that is normal. They tell you what they really wish was true. About age eight, they should be pretty much past the lying. You could invest in some counseling, or you could ask your boy yourself, why does he think he lies?

Some kids lie because they don't trust their parents, they are afraid of harsh punishments. Some kids lie because they have a poor image of themselves, they don't see that they are valuable as they truly are. You might need to modify your expectations and discipline so that your boy trusts you. You might need to help him develop some real talents that are valuable.

In my religious tradition there is a writing that says that God gives to men weaknesses that they may become strengths. This idea that you can ask God to help you become a great truth-teller when you are a great liar was very helpful to me when I decided to be a truth-teller.

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

One thing that's helped us w/ our kids (ages 5 & 4) is to tell them that lying is not good, and if they lie, it will only make things worse. We encourage them to tell the truth by saying, tell the truth, and we won't get mad. We can always tell when our kids are lying, and that's when we try to instill this thinking in them. At some pt you need to learn to trust your kids. Doing this will build respect. However, if a child ever disrespects a parent, the child needs to be told what he did was wrong, and he then must face the consequences of his actions.

momtoangels's picture
momtoangels

That's what is creepy - we can't usually tell when he's lying. He looks you straight in the eye, and with none of the usual body language, (looking down, blushing, fidgeting, etc.) just lies away.

SnglDad's picture
SnglDad

My oldest is as honest as the day is long, but the youngest, he’s a challenge at times. As has been suggested, I too tell my kids that they will not get in as much trouble if they tell me the truth. I always try to get all the facts before I confront him about something. I let him tell his side of the story, but when/if he starts to lie, I stop him and tell him that I know he is not telling the truth. I will then tell him he has one more chance to tell the truth before he gets in trouble. Once he knows that I already know the truth, he comes clean. This has not always been the case; he has spent many nights in his room with no TV, or at the table writing sentences.

I seldom tell him that I am disappointed, or upset with him. I want him to know that this is his problem, not mine. I usually tell him that I’m sorry he made the decision to lie to me. I will then let him know that because of HIS decision, I have no choice but to punish him. This did not work the first second, or twentieth time I used it; this has been a process. Whatever you decide will work for you and your family, always be consistent, and follow through. That’s why I tell him that I have no choice but to punish him, he made the decision to be punished when he decided to lie.

The usual body language you are looking for may be absent, but somewhere there is a “tell”. Very few people are able to detect and then suppress microexpressions. These expressions are very slight, but quite telling. My son has the slightest eye movement. It’s almost like he knows not to look away, but he cannot look me in the eye. His eyes will go off to the side so slight that it’s like he is looking just to the side of my pupil. Some, when they are buying time to think of a lie; even though they hear your question they will say “huh?” When my son does this, I do not repeat the question; I just look him in the eyes. This makes him uncomfortable, it completely throws him off, and he has a hard time fabricating something.