Have you ever told a "white" lie because you just couldn't bear to "hurt" someone's feelings by telling them the truth? We forget that our children pick up from us these behaviors. Then the day comes when cute Sally "lies" to you about something. Right away some parents go into making their child wrong for lying. I was guilty of this, until I realized that I was passing judgment on my child.
The thing about judgment is that you can't pass judgment on someone, unless you have judged yourself for the same thing. Interesting huh? So when you judge your child for lying, you are also judging yourself. Not so much fun. So what is a parent to do? After all we can't let our kids grow up lying. The questions I had to ask myself when my child lied to me were; "What is important here?" and "What do I need to know? "
What I found was that what I really needed to know was what is the truth? And that I could easily surmise the truth from just listening and being in tune to my child. I learned that when I ask a question of my child, I also say in my head, "TRUTH". Then I know that either my child will surprisingly tell me the truth or I will know that he/she isn't telling me the truth. Once I know the truth then I can proceed with the information. Often times, just knowing that what was being said didn't match the energy of the truth. The trap that many parents fall into is that they want so much to believe their kids so that they can trust them. I watched on father continue to believe every lie his son told him only to feel hurt that his son wouldn't or couldn't tell him the truth. You can see that this turns off our awareness of what is really true. This brings up two important key points about lying.
How often do you take the fact that someone lied to you as a personal attack? That now you can't trust them? Interesting that you would let someone take control of you so easily. What if lying is just a way to manipulate and push people away? Or what if lying was a way that a person detaches from their own reality because they can't seem to handle it? The point is that when person lies, they aren't trying to hurt you, it is more about how well they can or can't handle the truth. When you know the truth, you really can't be hurt and you can begin to assist the other person into acknowledging their own truth. The other key about trust is that trust isn't about having people do what works for us, it is about knowing that people will do what works for them. If your child continues to lie, then for some reason it is what is working for them and you can continue to trust them to lie to you until that changes. Getting angry and judging your child as wrong is not the response you want to have. That just really reinforces to the child that they were right to lie, even though to you that doesn't make sense.
So what would be an appropriate response? Ask your child more questions always from a space or attitude of allowance and non-judgment. You can encourage them to tell you more about their response. The key is never to accuse or judge them. When they see that you aren't going to judge them or react to their lie, and they perceive that you know the truth anyway, they will stop lying. It won't serve them any longer, at least with you.
Another way you can use questions to help your child is to let them know that you know that what they said isn't true, and that you wonder how that will work for them in the future as people begin to know that what the child says isn't true. You can let your child know that there are other options to lying, and ask them what would happen if they told the truth. Again the key here is that you are not judging, just giving your child information and a space in which to process, a very safe space.
And lastly, putting your child in a place that they will lie when you know the truth is also discouraged. An example would be, that you see that Jack did not take out the trash. So you ask him if he took out the trash. He is being tested by you, which now has nothing to do with taking out the trash and he knows that this is judgment day. Many kids don't feel that they can measure up to judgment depending on how much they have been judged. So they may lie straight out and well you know where it goes from there- not a pretty sight for either the parent or the child.
What if it weren't wrong to lie, it was just a choice and you coach your child just as you would in any other choice they make. Allow them to experience how well it works or not and guide them to see that there are always other choices when something doesn't work. This is just another opportunity to be there for your child.
Carry on conscious parent, you are doing great!