So your little child has just started saying small phrases and responding to questions, and you hear some lies. What should you do?
Instead of asking a question in a way that suggests you are looking for an accuser, ask it in a way that prompts your child to cooperate with you. For example, instead of asking "Who wrote with crayons on this wall?", you can say "Oh, someone has written on the wall with crayons. My dear, can you help me clean it off?". Use a normal tone when you ask your question.
Compliment your child when he or she speaks the truth. Tell them that you are glad they trust you enough to tell the truth. If you know it is a lie, tell them that friendships and family relationships depend heavily on trust and you have to tell each other the truth.
Sometimes you can ignore the lie and explain to them why you were asking the question. Once they understand the reason behind the question, they will be more inclined to give you a truthful answer.
For example, you may ask "Did you wash your hands?" and your preschooler may respond "Yes" even though you did not hear any sounds of water running. Instead of saying "Don't lie to me", you can say "I asked because washing makes the germs go away from your hand. Do you want to make sure the bad germs are gone from your hand by going to the bathroom and washing thoroughly?".
To avoid being shouted at or punished, the child may lie and deny they made a mistake. Temper your reaction when a mistake is made.
Focus on building trust with your child. Do not doubt everything they say. If they say they have washed their hands, don't inspect their hands every time to verify if they are speaking their truth or not. This tells your child that you do not trust them.
Sometimes to build trust, you may have just have to play along wth their fantasy. For example, if they say "I saw a monkey with two tails at school", say, "Wow, can you show it to me too tomorrow?"
As much as possible, speak the truth to your child. Try to explain things to them rather than pushing them of with simple lies, or with "You don't need to know". Children can often sense when they are being lied to. And they may lie to you because they have seen you do it and think it is OK. Remember, you are their role model.
React to a situation the same way every time whether your child lies or not. For example, if the child makes a big mistake, don't let them get away with it because they spoke the truth or don't punish them more because they lied. The child will realize that lying will not save them from the actions they committed.
Even if you do not recognize it immediately, but only realize later that the child has lied, do follow through on it and do not let the matter go to rest. By following through, you are indicating to your child that their lying does eventually catch up with them and that they cannot get away with it forever.
You may feel that allowing even a small lie maybe a big problem. But sometimes, a little slack may work better with children. Don't make a big deal out of every little lie. Keep encouraging truthful behaviour and you will see a change. However, if you see a increase in frequency of lying to the point where it is unhealthy, talk to a professional.
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