As full-grown adults and parents, we’re pretty familiar with lying. And although we hate to admit it, our kids will most definitely lie to us at some point as well. It might be about the vase that fell off the shelf all on its own or the homework worksheets they stashed at the bottom of their bags and don’t remember ever getting. But before you go and write “honesty is the best policy” on every surface they lay their eyes on, take a beat and know that lying is very, very natural and according to research, is actually considered a developmental milestone. This isn’t to say that it should be encouraged in any way. But just because they hid their homework doesn’t mean they’re going to rob a bank in a few years. Here are a few helpful tips to get to bottom of their behavior:
- What’s The Why
In most cases, a lie always has a root cause to it. The obvious ones are to get something they want or to avoid consequences for a mistake but those aren’t the only ones. It could also be because they want to test this new idea and see what happens or tell grandiose lies to make themselves seem cooler in front of others. Whatever the reason, it’s important to get to the why before we can get to the what.
- Keep The Conversation Comfortable
Always make sure that your child is never hesitant to come to you because they might think you’ll be angry or afraid that you’ll love them less. Kids need to be reminded that whatever they do, you’ll love them regardless and telling the truth is always important.
- Acknowledge Their Honesty
Coming clean is gut wrenching and terrifying and we’ve all gone through those moments. So when your little con men and women do decide to admit their mistake, celebrate their courage and provide positive reinforcement so they know they did the right thing.
- Sometimes There Are Consequences
When a lie gets out of hand, it’s important to make sure they understand that their actions will have repercussions. This doesn’t mean you should ground them until they’re a legal adult but something short-lived like a household chore should be enough to get them on the straight and narrow again.
Lies are going to come up more and more frequently as kids get older. It’s a part of life. And sometimes lies are good. Like when we have to be polite even though the new recipe a relative spent all day on tastes “interesting”. But keeping the trust between you and them and maintaining a safe environment is paramount. Before you know it, they’ll be smirking alongside you the next time that relative comes over.