When we hear from parents about the issue of lying, we often hear them say:
“I don’t know what I feel worse about…her sneaking out or her lying to me about it!”
When you catch your child or teen in a lie, it is common to experience a flood of emotions. Lying hurts and it is okay to feel angry, disappointed, or betrayed. You might even feel afraid about what will happen next if the lying continues.
This is why it is important, if you can, to take some time before you respond. Give yourself the time you need to calm down. Although it is common to take lying personally and to be upset, you will not be as effective if you respond with a lot of emotion.
Here are three things you can do the next time you catch your child lying.
- Understand What Lying Is (and What It Isn’t). Every situation is different, but kids and adults often use lying to get out of difficult situations. Lying can also be used as a way of avoiding trouble or trying to get away with not following the rules. Sometimes, lies are about trying to fit in or trying to make someone feel better. Kids who use lying as a way to solve their problems are probably not thinking about being hurtful. They are likely not seeing this the way that you are.
- Focus on the Issue That They Are Lying About. Try to keep your focus on the situation at hand. If your son lied about getting his homework turned in and now he has a failing grade, focus first on the plan to bring that grade up. Lying didn’t solve his problem and in fact, it made it worse. You can point this out and let him know that lying is not okay and doesn’t solve problems. Getting sidetracked into an argument about whether or not you trust him could take you away from the important homework conversation that you need to have.
- Rebuilding Trust. It may take some time to mend your broken trust with your child. Keep your focus on helping your child learn more effective ways to handle the things that come their way and just let them know that things might be different for a while. Trust is rebuilt when kids can show you that they can follow the rules even when they don’t like them or agree with them. With better choices comes more independence.
If you need more help on how to address lying, this article is a great one to read next: How to Deal With Lying in Children and Teens