When does it become a problem? It can be confusing, sometimes adults tell little ‘white lies’ all the time.. Preschoolers often mix up reality and fantasy and may lie without meaning to. By elementary school, children know the difference. By elementary school it can become a problem if children tell lies.
Why do children lie? Children lie for many reasons. Avoid consequences, copying others who lie, or to brag or boast.
How to try and discourage lying? Discuss the problem with your child, let them know how it makes you feel when they don’t tell you the truth. Get your child’s opinion, ask them why they feel the need to lie. Reinforce with them that you also want them to tell the truth. Talk with them about the consequences of lying. Decide in advance what to do if you suspect your child is not telling the truth (i.e. loss of a privilege). Finally encourage the behavior you want to see! Give them opportunities to tell the truth by asking them about things you already know, ex. Have you washed the dishes? or Have you finished your homework? You’ll know because you can check the facts. Offer lots of praise and encouragement, “Thanks Tammy, for telling me the truth”. It can take some time for children to realize it’s better to be honest and tell the truth. You can help by setting up a behavior contract or sticker chart. Seek professional help if lying continues to a serious issue.