In a previous post we discussed why children lie. In this article we will discuss the positive aspects of lying, (yes, sounds crazy but it is true) and 3 ways to manage lying.
You might be surprised by this but some times, lying is also a form of higher thinking and intelligence. Lying requires more imagination than honesty. In order to lie you need to know what the truth is. Then you need to creatively come up with a new story that will be believable. So children who lie are pretty imaginative. Many times older children will lie to spare another child’s feelings.
Parents should not worry excessively when their children lie. Becoming a moral, upstanding adult takes time and lots of learning from mistakes. Learning to be honest is one of those lessons that has to be learned. Punishing children is not the answer, gentle guidance, is.
Here are 3 ways to gently encourage your child to tell the truth:
1. Explain the difference between lying and “white” lies:
In general, young children have a hard time understanding what a lie is and what the truth is. Because children have such vivid imaginations and are at the same time concrete, black and white learners, the whole topic of lying vs. white lies is confusing. Many people believe that white lies are acceptable because they are used for the sole purpose of protecting another’s feelings. Most cultures view it as a form of kindness. It would be beneficial for parents to give a short explanation about “white” lies. You can tell your child about your own experiences, when you had to use a “white lie” to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. For example, if you had to tell your friend that you liked her cake even thought you didn’t because you didn’t want her to feel bad.
2. Never push a kid into a place where they have a hard time telling you the truth:
Make sure you don’t ask your children questions that will put them in a position to lie. Asking, “Who did this?” or “Why would anyone do such a thing?” Talk about the incident in a matter of fact way, “Oh no, the water spilled all over the floor! We need to get this cleaned up right away!”
3. Role modeling:
The best way to ensure your child tells the truth is to make sure you are truthful yourself. Your kids watch your every move that is the way they learn their moral code and the values that are important to your family.
Children need us to help them tell the truth. Being open about white lies, being careful to avoid putting our children on the defensive and role modeling can help us do just that.