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When a 4 yr old boy named Rahul says to his mother, “I need to have that big pencil; everybody in the class has to have it. My teacher told I will be able to draw better”, as an adult you would think he is lying. But from Rahul's perspective, he just made up an innocent story to convince his mother to buy him the big pencil.
The concept of lying is not as well understood by kids. Fairies, wizards, witches, talking animals, superheroes and that magical land of wonderful things, are all part of your kids world. The cartoon shows they watch reaffirm their belief in such things. Add this to their powerful imagination and you have yourself some great story-tellers!
Kids cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction all too well. It’s important for parents and teachers alike to understand the perspective of the child and help them know the difference between what is real and what is a tale.
What triggers kids to lie?
Kids usually make up stories, either to get out of something, to get what they want or just for fun. In other words they simply trick you into believing their stories, which might be completely or partially made up.
How can you help reinforce truth telling in kids?
Give assurance: Most kids lie when they are afraid they will get into trouble for telling the truth. Assure your kids that telling the truth will not be punished but rewarded, and do it. This will encourage them to be honest with you no matter what.
Channel their imagination into story telling: Place images of different animals or objects and ask them to make up a story. During such activities insist on the fact that they are making up a story and that this isn't real. Draw parallels to what they see in cartoon shows, “Animators tell stories with cartoons”.
Be persistent about telling the truth: Have a household rule of telling the truth and ensure everyone at home follows it. You can give your kid the title of “Truth-Police” for a day and take turns. Giving the responsibility of governing truthfulness in the house will ensure your kid doesn't lie.
Be role models: Avoid lying in front of your kids. When a father asks his son to answer the phone and lie that he is not around to take the phone, the son will get the impression that lying is okay. Kids may not be good at listening to their elders but they never fail to imitate them.
Reward the truth: Changing behavioural pattern requires motivation. Rewarding your kid when he tells the truth will work as a motivator and encourage him to be honest with you. So remember to keep calm and reward your kid when he confronts the truth.
Have positive discussions: Discuss the benefits of telling the truth as appose to the negative consequence of lying. Research shows that children respond positively to the benefits of telling the truth rather than the consequence of lying. Stories like Pinocchio and the boy who cried wolf, can be retold in a positive way. “If the boy hadn't called wolf in the first place, people would have come to his rescue and helped him when he needed it the most.”
Ignore the lies: Kids often lie to seek attention. Parents must understand the reason for the lying and not ignore the child's need for attention. During such times, ignore the lies not the lying.
Don't beat or spank: Harsh parenting methods can lead to an increase in the habit of lying in younger kids. If your kids lie to cover up their mistakes and avoid punishment, don't give them the rod, it will instill fear in them which is a terrible way to raise your child. Chances of kids turning into habitual liars are more when parents use methods of spanking and beating.
The world of fantasy will remain a part of your kid’s childhood as much as the reality we wish they embrace. Remember, it takes strength and courage to admit the truth. So be appreciative and encouraging of their efforts.