Lying is appalling. We all hate to be lied to. It hurts, it angers, and it frustrates. So when our sweet little preschooler lies we immediately become angry and insecure. We are angry because our child just lied and it feels so disrespectful. We are insecure because we wonder if our child will lie all the time and grow up to be a con artist. We also wonder if that reflects on our parenting. When our children lies can we ever trust them again? What does that say about their character?
Well, after taking a deep breath you have to realize that a child does not understand the full ramifications of lying. A child will naturally turn to lying to protect herself from your wrath. Some even feel angering a parent will cause the parent to not love them. A child needs to be taught what lying is and how it hurts. All children lie at some point so this is no reflection on your parenting and no reason to worry she will grow up to be a full time liar.
Since lying is mostly done for self protection you need to handle situations differently. Instead of speaking angrily and demanding who painted the living room floor a deep shade of purple walk away for a moment. Compose yourself. All children make horrific decorating errors at one time or another. Then tell your child that painting the living room a deep shade of purple is unacceptable and quickly discipline your child. Give your child no time to lie.
In my home if you lie about anything no matter how small you are swiftly punished. The punishment for lying is always more extreme then telling the truth. We explain how lies hurt and damage reputations and relationships. For young children we try to explain that if we told them we were going for ice cream but went to the doctor instead it would be a lie. Further, we ask if they would believe us the next time we said we were going for ice cream. We ask how they would feel if we lied to them. We want to make it clear that lying hurts and it causes you to see the person who lied differently.
Model honesty in all the time. Adults have a tendency to tell “white” lies. Children hear it, know it and then model it. They make no distinction between “white” lies and lies. Why? Because there isn’t a distinction. In fact, labeling a lie as a “white” lie is a way we lie to ourselves. Represent truth and honesty and demand it in your children and you will raise children of integrity.