Habitot Children's Museum                                                                                                                    November 2015
"WHEN KIDS LIE"
November 2015 Parenting Topic of the Month
This month we welcome guest contributor, Parenting Educator & Career Coach Marcilie Smith Boyle.  You can learn more about Marcilie and her positive discipline work at http://workingparenting.com/
The topic of lying came up in my parenting class last week. We were role-playing parents’ typical responses to a lying kid:
  • “Honey, did you just lie about that? Are you sure?” (When parent already knows the child is lying)
  • “Are you kidding me? You just lied straight to my face. How COULD you?”
  • “That’s it, no more (fill in the blank) for you!”

Everyone agreed that the typical responses above didn’t help the child learn to be honest, but they also wondered what the heck else to do! Here are a few tips gathered from various experts on the subject.

  1. Just know that all kids lie. Home observation studies found that “four-year-olds will lie once every two hours, while a six-year-old will lie about once every hour . . . 96% of all kids offer up lies.” (Nurtureshock by Po Bronson) I used to feel completely betrayed when I discovered that my child lied to me. Now, I am less personally appalled, which means I can respond with less emotion, and increase the odds of productive learning in the aftermath.
  1. Avoid punishment. When children first begin lying, they do so to avoid punishment. The threat of punishment puts the child’s focus on self-preservation, rather than on the bigger issue of doing the right thing. “In studies, scholars find that kids who live in threat of consistent punishment don’t lie less. Instead, they become better liars, at an earlier age – learning to get caught less often.” (Nurturshock)
  1. Don’t trap your child in their lie. If you know your child has lied, don’t ask them if they have, which is an invitation to dig themselves even deeper into the lie. Instead of “Have you washed your hands?” when you know they haven’t, describe what you see: “I see dry hands,” and invite the next step: “would you like some help washing those germs away?” (Dr. Laura Markham, AhaParenting.com)
  1. When your child has lied to you, be honest yourself. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott of Positive Discipline recommend you say, “That doesn’t sound like the truth to me. Most of us don’t tell the truth when we are feeling trapped, scared, or threatened in some way. I wonder how I might be making you feel that it isn’t safe to tell the truth? Why don’t we take some time off right now? Later I’ll be available if you would like to share with me what is going on for you.”
  1. Reward honesty with immunity and appreciation. This advice comes from Dr. Victoria Talwar, one of the world’s leading experts on children’s lying behavior. If you want the truth from your child, teach them the worth of honesty by telling the child, “If you are honest with me, I promise that I will not punish you and in fact, I will appreciate you even more for telling the truth.” Her research shows that offering immunity PLUS praise for honesty reduces lying by between 50-75%.
  1. Deal with the actual problem. Lying about having hit one’s brother is a problem, but the real problem is feeling the need to hit in the first place. So put the focus on the hitting and look for solutions to that problem, rather than on the lying. (Positive Discipline A-Z)
  1. Be aware of what you are modeling. Turns out, adults lie too, at a rate of about one per day, on average. (Nurtureshock) The vast majority of these are little white lies to avoid hurting feelings, protect ourselves from looking bad, or avoid engaging in something we’d rather not. When a telemarketer calls and asks if you are home, do you ever say, “I’m sorry, he/she’s not here right now”? Our kids are listening!

Like what you’re reading?  Subscribe to Marcilie's monthly newsletter here.

Ready for more?  Please join her November 4th for live Parenting with Positive Discipline classes in Oakland!

THIS MONTH'S GIFT STORE DISCOUNT
Facebook
Twitter
Website
HABITOT CHILDREN'S MUSEUM
2065 Kittredge St., Berkeley   |   Habitot.org   |   510. 647.1111