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In: home > Raising Children / Behavioral Problems / Lying - How it Begins in Children

Lying - How it Begins in Children

raising-children Behavioral Problems
Lying can become a habit in children if it is not nipped in the bud by handling it the right way. Read on and find out how children begin to tell lies and how to handle lying in them.

Of all the various behavioural disorders that can affect a child, the worst are the delinquency acts. Acts like lying, stealing truancy and sexual offenses. They are the most difficult to accept or to deal with and require extremely sensitive handling.

But before we term a particular child a liar, we must be sure that the child is actually lying and it is not just his overactive imagination at work. Very often the child could have thought that a particular thing had happened even though this is not actually the case, but this does not necessarily mean that he is lying. He could have even had a realistic dream that he believes to be true like a robber coming into his bedroom or maybe even a dog or a cat. To us these might seem like little lies, but to him, with his limited experiences and different perceptions might be very real indeed.

Don't brand your child a Liar!

Most children normally express what they feel very genuinely. It may seem like an overly exaggerated story or even a lie and then the child gets misunderstood and branded a liar. Be careful here because this would only serve to stunt his entire emotional development. If you can not show him trust then he will ultimately lose confidence in himself and grow into a highly complexed individual.

Once this mistrust sets in, things only get worse when the parents ask his siblings or friends to verify what the child may have said. Or else some parents tend to put their child down in public saying that no one should believe his exaggerated stories. If this sort of attitude continues, then the child begins to doubt his own abilities for understanding events or situations and feels that he can not distinguish between fact and fiction. Then he will gradually withdraw into a shell for fear of his disabilities (as he perceives it) being further exposed or being called a liar once again. Can you imagine what is happening to him on an emotional level?

Lying begins with overly high expectations from parents

Let us get one thing clear at this point. No child is a born liar. Nor does lying come naturally to a child until and unless he or she is forced into it. No parent would knowingly force a child into this kind of behaviour, but when a parent is too rigid or strict, the child feel pressurized to do anything to please him or her. If he feels that he has done something, which might not even be wrong, but he believes would anger his parents, then he would try his best to cover up the facts so as not to upset them. And then the first time he gets away with it, it simply encourages him to try it again and again until it becomes a habit or even second nature. 

Finally after a few months, if he happens to make a slip out of overconfidence, he is found out and branded a liar. But, by this stage it is too late as he is already an expert and is habituated to avoid punishment or even lie for no real reason or any kind of gain. So it is important to nip this habit in the bud and not let it get out of hand, as once the child is accustomed to taking the easy way out, there is no stopping him.

Prevention is definitely better than cure
The way out is not to set down extremely rigid rules or standards that your child may or may not be able to live up to so that he can have a happy, healthy childhood without any high pressures or expectations. In this way he will automatically respect the law and truth and not find it necessary to find a way out by lying. If the parents dominant attitude does not undergo a radical change the child might grow in to a liar who is ostracized and avoided by all. His future too would be ruined as no one would trust him or be able to do business or keep up friendships in good faith.

Parents start with White Lies

Some parents unknowingly encourage their children to indulge in white lies for their own convenience. Let us take the example of Mr. Sampat who was trying to avoid a client by staying at home and calling in sick. He asked his wife to call the office for him. And of course his little daughter was there, quietly observing the whole situation. But it got worse when the telephone rang and Mr. Sampat asked his daughter to pick up the phone and say that her daddy was sleeping. Naturally the child would grow up to think that it is not absolutely necessary to be honest all the time and lies seem perfectly harmless.

Harmless exaggeration can quickly lead to a bad habit

Children even tend to indulge in white lies when they want to show-off in front of their peer group. They might give an exaggerated account of their own travels or of the gifts that they have received from their parents just so that they can seem one up on their friends. This kind of lying seems harmless to start with, but if not corrected it could become a and lead the child to lose trust not only in himself but in everyone else as well. He automatically assumes that the others around him must be doing the same thing so he is suspicious of everything that he is told. This basic lack of trust in every one and everything around him, including himself tends to weaken his character and stunt his personal development. 

Parental change in attitude is all that is required

Lying is one of the few behavioural disorders that can be completely avoided by the correct parental attitudes and the right upbringing of the child. So make sure that you bring up your little one without unnecessary pressures and with lots of love, understanding and compassion.


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Mishra.2 years ago
the origins of lying lie in pressure to conform to expectations. Parents need to be understanding, even teachers. I find Orchids very strict about the behaviour of the teachers towards kids.
Payal.2 years ago
Parents need to be very careful in every stage of child's life. Blaming on others while telling a lie due to fear and there are other scenarios that go with this trait. How to help the kids understand and make them good is what really matters. Wonderful post!
Mak.3 years ago
I think not every aspect of a child lying it's completely the parents fault, but, if it continues what other explanation is there. As parents we are role models, judge, jury, friend, and theres a fine line between each. I'm sure some of us know the saying "It takes a village to raise a child." That means the adults in the childs life need to work together at least on some level to bring our kids up to be good people. We need to be able to rely on other adults. It drives me insane when parents insist their child is perfect they did no wrong can do no wrong. They are children, children make mistakes it's what they do, it's how they learn! It's up to us to set them straight and when the adults aren't on the same page and consistent it makes it harder to teach them. Could you imagine if a child was told by one parent "the sky is green" and the other saying "it's people" then other adults telling them other colors. The confusion. It all relates. Consistency is key.
Mak.3 years ago
I think not every aspect of a child lying it's completely the parents fault, but, if it continues what other explanation is there. As parents we are role models, judge, jury, friend, and theres a fine line between each. I'm sure some of us know the saying "It takes a village to raise a child." That means the adults in the childs life need to work together at least on some level to bring our kids up to be good people. We need to be able to rely on other adults. It drives me insane when parents insist their child is perfect they did no wrong can do no wrong. They are children, children make mistakes it's what they do, it's how they learn! It's up to us to set them straight and when the adults aren't on the same page and consistent it makes it harder to teach them. Could you imagine if a child was told by one parent "the sky is green" and the other saying "it's people" then other adults telling them other colors. The confusion. It all relates. Consistency is key.
Mak.3 years ago
Some of this stuff sounds right to me, and some of it, well maybe it depends on the situation. I have a 4 year old son that went through a lying phase after spending a summer with an older cousin that constantly lies. When my husband and I caught on that he was lying and we KNEW he was. We would ask him about the situation, inform him that we did know what happened or that we would find out. The lies and the "I don't know" continued for a little while, but, we made it clear that he was in more trouble for lying than anything else. That there was nothing he could do that it was worth lying over. So far it's worked.
My niece on the other hand... I try similar tactics with her but she has had this mentality for about 6 years. I don't know how her mom could begin to burn this web. Her parents are going through custody battles and she tries manipulate EVERY situation to keep out of trouble or get what she wants.From saying she didn't push Max down thats not why he's crying, even though I watched the entire thing from the other side of the door. Right down to saying shes never seen a movie before, shes been dying to see it please. Then tells you the entire movie! It's not that big of a deal. If she wants to watch a movie all she has to do is ask, why lie about it???? I'm not her mom so I approach her lies different than my sons. I inform her that I saw the events unfold so she needs to think about what she it's about to tell me. I talk to her mom about it and she seems concerned but maybe she isn't doing anything about it because shes afraid her baby girl will tell courts she wants to stay with dad. She knows she only see s us for a short time before going back to her dad. Both parents buy her love. Especially around court dates. I don't know if theres any end to what she does. The parents hate each other at this point and aren't nearly as concerned about working together for the sake of her as they are to hurt the other parent. It's sad and this is a situation I blame on the parents.
uma girish.6 years ago
i also believe that every time you encourage your child to tell the truth and reinforce that she will not be reprimanded (it takes a lot of courage to tell the truth ) it works wonders. the trust she begins to develop is great. it works with my daughter. try it.
suresh kumar.P.6 years ago
expecting more experiments results
Catherine Whittall.6 years ago
i think this article should mention that repetetive lying could be a sign of an underlying condition and professional help is needed.
adelia.6 years ago
i would like to know more regarding what 'underlying problem' may be at work with chronic liars--this article just seems to easy in its answers and assessmetns
wolf.6 years ago
our children may lie because we don't want to hear the truth.they say "ihate my baby sister." we say, "no you don't.tell her you love her."
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