Although the fact that children begin to use lies to avoid feeling stressed, uncomfortable, to get out of conflicts or to attract attention, psychologist Matthew Rouse reveals in one of his articles that this can also be due to impulsivity or to try a new behavior. They want to know what will happen if they lie and what the consequences will be. Some minors lie as a defense to avoid losing their parents’ affection when there may be a more volatile attachment. And another option, quite common at a certain age, is to lie when about something you would like to happen, for example “I’m going to have a little brother”.
When faced with a lie, adults usually respond with a sanction. And this is not only an inappropriate act, but also a transfer of the value of honesty. Making sons and daughters see that behavior has consequences is very important as a life tool, and if lying continues as a systematic act, it becomes vital to understand the reasons. Punishment will not solve or prevent lying in future situations.
In general, boys and girls know that lying is a negative thing. His parents have expressed it in certain ways and yet continue to do so. Understanding the reasons will be crucial for a change that can only be made if the parents or caregivers of the child manage to create a relationship where the child feels safe to decipher his vulnerable inner world.
The model of honesty we give them must be consistent and clear. If they observe situations where their parents are lying or asking them for help not to say something or to say something specific that is not true, we will create confusion about the concept of lying. As adults, we may think that sometimes “innocent” lies are necessary, but they do not have the necessary criteria of distinction. It is worth asking ourselves, are there any innocent lies?
As moms and dads, we can do different things to work on this issue with our sons and daughters.
– It is important to observe in what situations they lie, whether it is repeated or something more random. If it is not accidental, it would be necessary to investigate and investigate what it is at the time that causes the child to lie.
-If the lie happens to a certain person or varies.
-If you tend to hide information by default or create a completely unrealistic story.
-If, despite being found lying, they continue to lie, it should reflect that we are aware of their actions and then reflect on what happened, trying to understand and without judging.
-It is important not to label them as “my son is a liar”, “my niece always lies”.
-If the lie is due to an insecure personality and low self-esteem that appears in a peer context, he is probably doing it to fit in. That’s why this situation should never be presented to them with phrases like “you’re saying that because you’re with friends”, “are you also lying to your parents?”.
-If our son and daughter are prone to using lies, give them a chance to tell the truth. For example, “I get the impression that you haven’t told me everything yet”, “let’s tell the truth so I can help you”.
– When we make the sanction effective, it is important that it is shown as a consequence of the act of lying, and not as something external. Explain that lying involves a prior decision to lie or not, this will help develop the ability to recognize and make responsible decisions.
– Sons and daughters are spoken to preventively, not only when there are lies. Express the importance of telling the truth because it helps build a bridge of communication and attachment. This must be accompanied by a review of how we respond to lies, because if we want to be told the truth, we cannot fall into shouting, excessive challenges and loss of control. This will be taken by them as a threat. How and confidence we use in the face of the act of lying will determine the success in working on it.
-Something specific that can also help in a specific situation is that before we ask about it, we express to the boys and girls that we need them to tell us the truth about what we are going to ask.
-Give them some time to think about their answers and feel the courage to tell the truth.
– Avoid threats.
Josephine Montiel is a clinical psychologist. Instagram: @ps.josemontiel