Children lie as part of their normal development. Throughout childhood children clarify boundaries by testing limits. Very young children are not yet able to distinguish fantasy from reality. By the age of 6 children have a better understanding about the difference between fantasy and reality and develop a conscience. At this age children may lie to avoid punishment or disapproval. As children get older they might lie to spare someone’s feelings, because they feel overwhelmed or to gain attention. Remember that chronic or habitual liars rarely feel good about themselves. Look for patterns in the child’s lying and try to determine what needs the child has that make him or her want to lie.
Your CHILL counselors, the mental health professionals based in each Winter Park Consortium School (Winter Park High and the elementary and middle feeder schools), have assembled these tips on how to prevent lying.
- Always model telling the truth. Avoid “little white lies” such as lying about your child’s age so he or she gets a cheaper movie ticket.
- Keep your word, always explain and apologize if you have to break a promise.
- Teach your child through role-playing the value of telling the truth.
- Teach your child the difference between make believe and reality, truth and lying.
- Let your child know that lying is not acceptable.
- Praise your child for telling the truth, especially in situations where it is difficult for your child.
- Create a safe family environment so your child can express his or her feelings.
- Avoid being too harsh in parenting. Be firm, fair and consistent instead.
Contact the CHILL counselor at your child’s school for more information on this topic. To find out the name of your counselor, click on the Schools tab on any page of this website.