Lying is just another one of life’s little challenges and to be honest (no pun intended) I haven’t found the magic bullet that solves the lying problem.
I believe that this is something that we are, as parents, destined to re-visit over the years as our children develop and mature.
It all seems to start with the very natural magical thinking that very young children do. It’s not actually lying – I think lying has to have some intent behind it to be considered dishonest. Magical thinking is when a young child believes that when they say something or think something – it becomes real. Eventually children learn that they can’t actually blow you up with their mind when they are angry but mine seem to all have managed to go through several different phases in which lying was an issue.
There are a couple of things that we tried over the years to combat the battle with the truth but they are all derived basically from the main concept.
No matter what when you tell the truth – all the time – you earn trust.
When you lie, you break a trust and then whenever you tell us something, there is going to be a small amount of doubt in our minds – we will wonder if it’s the truth we are hearing.
One day, and this happens to almost everyone, something will happen and you will tell your story and someone wont believe you. It might be that you are getting in trouble at school for something you didn’t do or you are being blamed for something at home or even something more serious but you are going to be telling your story and needing someone to believe you. If you have always told us the truth, we will believe you. No matter what.
That’s why we always need to tell the truth.
We’ve been telling this story – or mild variations of it – to each of our children forever. They still lied occasionally – we still caught them most of the time (I think) and over the years, their honesty has improved – perhaps because;
- Telling the truth – even when it was hard, always earned special notice and praise and conversely, lying to get out of trouble got them in more trouble than they would have gotten without the lie.
- Lying always resulted in a certain amount of disappointment – none of our kids liked it when we were disappointed in them.
- We have worked very hard to be honest and straightforward with them.
Recently our mantra has been upgraded – it was always “Tell The Truth – All The Time“ but I recently heard it with an extra line and I like it. (Thank you David Wood)
Tell The Truth – All The Time – With Compassion.