By Anita M. Schimizzi, Ph.D.
Awhile back, I posted about some research done on lying in children. A very brief explanation of the study was that kids lied more often and more effectively when punishment was on the line. Because so many children go through a lying phase, or more than a phase, I am writing this post to talk about ways to consider and deal with dishonesty.
Let’s first think about why lying gets under our skin so terribly. Well, as parents we know that honesty is critical to healthy relationships, to having integrity, and to resolving problems. Dishonesty can land you in a heap of interpersonal, academic, legal, and/or professional trouble both in the present and in the future and nobody wants that for their kids.
Now let’s look at our goals in confronting our child’s dishonesty. First, we want to know the truth and we want for our kids to be able to readily share it. Second, we want for our children to be able to make amends when their behavior affects somebody else, not skirt around the truth and try to get out of taking responsibility for it. Third, we want for our children to be able to learn from their mistakes. If they cannot be honest about those mistakes, then the learning is also lost. You can probably add a lot of other goals to this list. For this post, I’ll focus on the three above.
Okay, so how can we approach lying while keeping those three goals in mind? Let’s start with the first goal: obtaining the truth. This one simply takes a good dose of common sense. If our kids fear us, fear being punished, fear the lecture, etc., then they will be less likely to come clean. In Parenting with Love…