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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- The Indiaparenting Team