Growing up, we all have had our moments where we wanted to hide something from our parents in order to stay out of trouble or get something we really want. There will come a point where our children start to test boundaries and try to push limits in an attempt to break some of the rules that we have set for them, or cover up the fact that they had already misbehaved. So, what would be the best way to confront them and help them learn from their mistakes?
We recommend taking a positive approach, and here are 7 ways you can instil honesty in your children:
Set A Good Example
Although this is a common piece of advice, there is no doubt that children follow in the footsteps of their parents. Even when it comes to little white lies, children are aware of such situations and their idea of “not telling a lie” becomes blurred. Where exactly do you draw the line between a white lie which is acceptable and dishonesty which is not condoned? In order for them to have a clear boundary, parents need to make a clear distinction by refraining from being dishonest as well.
As adults, it’s typical to feel enraged and disrespected when a child is caught lying, because you would not expect your own child to behave dishonestly. However, it’s important to remember to calm yourself down so that you can understand why they lied and also convey the moral issues and implications of lying in a positive manner. If you were to have an outburst, your child would most likely close off from you.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
If a child feels like he or she is being interrogated, they are likely to feel intimidated and will close themselves off further. Since you’ve already found out, they know that they are in the red, so it’s best to talk calmly so that you can better understand their reasons for lying. Try to ask question such as:
“What temped you to lie?”
“Why did you choose to lie?”
“What were you trying you achieve by lying?”
“What happened after you lied?”
Sometimes, it’s also normal for children to run away with their imagination and they tell a lie unintentionally. So it’s best to get behind the situation in a gentle manner.
Label the Action, Not Your Child
When children are labelled something negative at a young age, it could affect them tremendously and they might even absorb it to the point where it becomes part of their identity. Even if a child has lied, it’s not acceptable to call them a liar. Instead, emphasise on the action of lying, and the choices that they made that led to them lying, reminding them that it’s unacceptable behaviour.
Explain the Implications of Lying
Since children are rash, they do not understand the effects of lying and how it can hurt others. Though some lies are told over more trivial matters, there are also other severe lies especially when it comes to actions that could potentially be against the law, where children need to be well educated about. Explain to them how far the effect of a lie can spread, and how many people it could affect especially when there could be some really serious consequences.
Name Different Options
After you have gotten to the bottom of their lie, explain to them the various other actions they could have taken instead of telling a lie. Since they would have done it because they were likely afraid of telling the truth, let them know that you can help them no matter what situation they are in, so that they will open up to you about something before they feel compelled to lie.
Follow Through with Consequences
Establish fair consequences and disciplinary actions – if it was a trivial matter like not doing their homework or forgetting to complete a chore at home, you could take away their play time or TV privileges. Depending on the situation, there would have to be a more serious punishment if it was a more detrimental lie and involved more people. Just make sure that you follow through consistently with the consequences you say you will implement so that they learn that they know you’re not just saying it, and will avoid lying again because they know that consequences will be in place.