Children tend to start lying at a very young age. This is because they have an active imagination and often get lost in their own fantasies. This apart, they do not have a clear perception of right from wrong as yet.
We as parents tend to ignore fanciful tales sprung by a child, but suddenly as the child grows up a little and lies about something more important, we get distraught. Why is our child lying to us, we wonder, and what do we do to stop this so it doesn't become a habit?
Don't overlook small lies
We often tend to forgive and overlook little lies, even smirk at them if they seem silly or funny. Don't do this. The next time you catch your child saying something untrue, check him there and then. Now, he may be lying about how his teacher caught a boy by the collar and hung him upside-down from the fan, but before long he will be lying about whether he studied at home when you were out, or whether he simply played the fool.
After checking your child for lying, punish him by sending him to his room or taking away his favourite toy.
Speak to your child
Once your child realizes that it is wrong to lie, sit down and have a conversation with him. Teach him about the importance of saying the truth. It is surprising how many parents never really sit down with their children and tell them to be truthful. Your child should also be told that he may even be punished after speaking the truth, but that you will always be proud that your child spoke the truth and accepted his punishment instead of escaping punishment with a lie.
Reward truthful behaviour
Help your child practice honesty by questioning him on matters even though you already know the answers. Initially ask him only those questions where the truth will not get him into trouble. By doing so you will be building his character. Reward him when he speaks the truth.
Praise positive behaviour
The next time your child tells you the truth even though he knows by doing so he will be getting into trouble, do not shout at him as much. Take away a privilege like ground him for the evening but also make sure you praise him and tell you how proud you are of him. It also makes sense to praise your child to your friends when your child is within earshot. Tell your friend how proud you are that your child never lies to you, even if he knows he will be punished. Such praise will have a profound impact on your child, and he will be even more determined not to let you down.
Practice what you preach
You cannot expect your children to be honest if they sense that you are dishonest in some manner. You have to teach your children by example. So the next time you break something at home, instead of just throwing it in the bin, make sure everyone knows you have broken it, and that you are owning up. Remember, children learn what they see and life.