Before I get into the why (It's really important that they learn to do it by the way), I just want to step back to the first time my nephew lied.
It was so difficult because 1) I wanted to wet myself with laughter because he had really been caught red handed and 2) I wanted to give him a fist bump for hitting his next developmental stage.
If I had less will-power and actually followed through on my natural instincts then it would have been disastrous.
Thankfully I stayed firm and he was suitably reprimanded for lying and of course for doing the thing wrong that he lied about.
But, why do they do it?
Well - why do you do it?
Because you don't want to get caught out.
The difference between us and them is we get when we're being caught out and when they first do it they have no idea at all that we know they're lying.
Plus, they really don't have the emotional understanding to realise that when they lie it hurts us (or makes us want to laugh...)
To be honest, there's plenty of adults out there who blatantly lie about things and just don't care about whether it hurts anyone else, but that's a whole other blog post
The important thing is not necessarily the lie but what you do about it.
Lets stay in the adult world for a moment so I can show you why this step is really important, and where many parents end up going wrong.
Most people (and for some reason professionals) will tell you that you need to; throw the book at the, lay down the law, instigate punishments...
Yeah, sure because as an adult the threat of a hefty fine, loosing your licence, or even a prison sentence stops you doing 80 down the motorway?
If you were caught what's the first thing you'd do?
Give an excuse; I didn't realise, I'm so sorry I was sneezing, really officer are you sure...
Yeah right, like the police ever fall for that garbage!
Nope, they just dole out the fine, or tell you to turn up in court.
What's your next move?
Check out the rear view mirror, get in the outside lane and start cruising at 80 again.
With this in mind, what do you think your child is going to do the minute you leave the room?
You guessed it - the exact same thing you really don't want them to do!
So, how do you stop them from doing it?
For starters you need to put all your punishments and threats on the back burner (you've just seen how they don't work).
Second, you need to go about figuring out why they want to do the thing you really don't want them to do.
If they keep jumping on the bed because they just really enjoy jumping then get them a trampoline.
If they are stealing sweets then find out why - are they hungry? Is it because their other sibling, or friend dared them too?
Are they covering up because they broke something that they know they shouldn't have been playing with?
You really need to get clear on why they're doing it.
The only way to do this is to have a conversation and you have to do this when you are calm and they have not just been caught out.
Bring it up in conversation, let them know that lying is wrong and that it hurts you when they're not being truthful.
Next, create a plan with them.
If they like jumping and you're going to get them a trampoline let them know that you'll reward them if they are able to only use their bed for sleeping and sitting on for the next so many days.
Track their progress daily and if they slip up and jump on the bed you just start the process again.
Eventually they will hit the time scale, and get the trampoline.
You no longer have to worry about them wrecking the furniture and they no longer worry about being caught out because they know you still love them.
Using this method of coaching and encouraging them to succeed at doing the positive behaviours rather than punishing them every time they mess up has been shown to be the most effective way to change any behaviours.
Remember, children are people and they will do exactly the same things that you or I do.
The only difference is as we age we become more skilled!
If you don't know how to use this method with what you're child is lying about drop a comment below & I'll get back to you as soon as I can with a suggestion.
Happy parenting & I'll catch you soon - Katie
p.s. our positive parenting community is a great place to get no-holds-barred access to a child development psychologist literally giving you the advice, support and help you need to support your child. You really can't access this anywhere else!
Katie Woodland - A developmental, and holistic psychologist who specialises in educating and empowering individuals, business leaders & school teachers to remove mental health as a barrier to success.
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