When Kids Lie to Escape Punishment

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For some children, depending on their age, lying to a parent can range from small fibs over who dropped the eggs on the floor and did not clean up, to big carbuncles where money has gone missing in the house and no one knows anything about it. Usually someone knows; the person who took it. In any event, a three year old knows when he tells a lie that he is doing wrong and usually the lie is to escape punishment. As he grows older and becomes more developed he may discover that telling a lie has advantages and that by telling them he not only gets what he wants, but someone else gets the blame for what he’s done. The number one disadvantage for telling a lie is that you forget what you lied about previously, and you get caught up in your own lies.

How to handle continuous and unnecessary lying

  • Set strict rules with consequences for anyone stealing money from the kitty, and list the punishment which can range from a two-hour timeout to no allowance for that week. When the child is found lying, carry out the punishment and don’t veer from it. Children have to know that you mean what you say and know that there will be consequences. If you don’t act on it they will take you for granted and not pay much attention the next time you chastize them. Punishment for a toddler need not be anything greater than a two minute timeout in his room.

  • As a child grows older and is more developed you can start to reason with him. Something like, “if you tell mummy a lie, I will not know when you are telling the truth and I won’t believe you again even though it might be the truth.”

  • Punishment does not mean sending him for a two minute timeout where he can have the remote control to the television set. It will in fact be a reward where he can watch his own program in peace.

  • Encourage a child to always tell the truth, especially when he owns up to the infraction. Always punish and reward a child without threatening that you will tell his father. That sets the father up as the bad guy.

  • Don’t become frustrated and spank. Cutting into his playtime or banning him from watching television is far more effective. Don’t label your child as a liar, but work with him to improve.

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