This week Lulu advises a mother whose son is making a habit of lying.
My son, aged six, has started lying. He lies about irrelevant things and serious things. He lies when he thinks he will get in trouble and then lies more when I catch him out.
I find it hard to know what is true and what is not.
When I ask him to tell me the truth he asks first if I will be angry… of course I say no (to make him tell the truth!) but sometimes I should be telling him off as what he has done is wrong.
How do I bring up an honest child?!!
How very frustrating!
It sounds to me as if he doesn’t want to disappoint you and then before it’s too late he’s told a lie to make the problem try and go away. It sounds too as if it’s become a bit of a habit.
My first suggestion would be to try and reframe the way you approach the situation.
When something has happened like the playdough got squashed into the carpet (again), don’t ask your lad “who did it?'” or “why?” as you probably already know who did it and who cares really about why.
Ask instead “how did it happen?”.
When given a yes or no choice he may well feel pushed into a corner. Instead when you ask “how did it happen?” and before listening to his reply ask him to stop talking, take a breath and think for a moment before giving you his answer.
When a moment has passed ask him to start again explaining the things he knows as opposed to the things he thinks, ask him to tell you what really happened, the parts he is sure of.
By the ripe old age of six, most children will know the difference between lies and the truth. They also know that all our actions have consequences so if he has lied to cover up something that he has done wrong then there needs to be a consequence both for telling a lie and also for what he was attempting to hide from you.
Make it very clear that his honesty above all will win your approval and will mean that he will get let off with a lesser consequence.
Make sure to praise him when he tells the truth this way he will learn that honesty is more important than a broken rule or a crunchy carpet.
You could also read him the story of Peter and the Wolf and talk about the moral behind the tale. Verbally retell the tale using a scenario similar to one that your son has lied about in the past. Talk together about possible outcomes to not telling the truth like the loss of trust and respect.
Remind him too of what happened when Pinocchio found himself telling lies and suggest that it might be better if his nose remained the same length!
I hope you find this helpful.