Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Teach your child to lie

Of course I’m not serious. But you might as well be teaching your child to lie if you use extreme punishments for small infractions.

Your child wants to please you. He really does. So, if he thinks his mistake will get you screaming at the top of your lungs, he may lie about it. Soon those little lies about leaving the wet washcloth by the sink, or saying he did his homework when he didn’t will turn into bigger lies. As he grows older, the lying and cheating mentality becomes part of his nature. Soon, his entire life becomes a lie and he doesn’t even know who he is anymore.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t point out when your child makes a mistake. I actually believe that you should never let a mistake go uncorrected. However, make sure that your consequences fit the crime. If you notice your child is having a particular problem that is consistent, talk to him about why he is struggling and figure out a way to help him succeed.

Generally liars are born in two environments: those that are too strict, and those that are too loose. If you are too strict about every little thing, and don’t show your child enough appreciation or love, your child may feel the pressure and lie to save himself from the pain. He may feel his self worth is correlated with his ability to be perfect. If he can’t be perfect, he’ll find a way to appear so. If you allow your child too much freedom and don’t put enough limits on your child, he will feel free to do whatever he wants and will not understand the seriousness of lying. He will think lying and cheating are “no big deal” and soon those will become habits. As long as he is not caught, he won’t feel bad about lying.

The balance is an environment where there are limits but also a lot of love. Your child needs to feel comfortable confiding in you if he does make a mistake.

If you catch him lying, ask yourself why he may feel the need to do that. You may find that the problem has less to do with him, and more to do with his environment.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Nikki. Couldn't agree more.
    We actually have an article about this very thing. Tons of parents ask us about lying - it seems to be a real hot button issue.

    Jenny Runkel, The ScreamFree Institute