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A Teenager's View on Lying

Face it.  Your kids are going to lie to you until one of you dies.  There is no way to avoid it.  You have been lied to in the past and you are going to be lied to in the future.  For a parent, there is little that you can do to avoid having your kids lie to you.  With the kind of superior party/inferior party relationship that comes from a parent/child relationship, there is no way to avoid lying.  If you want to stop your child’s lying altogether, tough.  If you want to try to discourage your child from lying, read on.

I am afraid that I have no miracle solution as to how to stop kids from lying.  For the most part it is unavoidable, and there will be lies that you could not have stopped.  But if you create more situations where your child feels less compelled to lie and can tell the truth, then you can make a big difference as to how much your child will lie.

As for social lies, school lies, and any other kind of lie where your child is lying to someone else besides you, it is hard to keep your child from lying.  Often you will have no way of knowing that a lie was told in the first place.  The only thing that I can think of to keep one’s child from lying outside the homestead is just to do what you have probably been doing all along, talking to your kid on what is right and wrong.  Now I cannot tell you exactly what you should teach your kids, but, although we all hate it, the best way to teach a kid something and make it stick is repetition.  At any age you should teach your child whatever your ideas are about lying if you want to keep them from lying.

Lies in the home are something that, unlike the aforementioned type of lying, you do have control over.  Although you can somewhat prevent this type of lying through ongoing discussions, you also have the twin powers of questioning and punishing.

Questioning should be conducted calmly and not with an angry voice.  I have been afraid to tell the truth sometimes to my parents, just because they are in a bad mood and are making me feel intimidated and not wanting to tell the truth.  Although previous to the questioning and after it, I would probably rather confess and rid myself of the guilt and consequences, by then I am usually just trying to save myself at that exact moment and I’m not giving thought to possible repercussions.

A useful technique that will often bring out the truth is plea bargaining.  Offering to lessen the punishment if the kid confesses instead of continuing the lie can be very tempting for the kid, especially if he/she has doubts about the credibility of his/her lie.  Also, I think it works better to start the questioning out on small things, so your child is not tempted to make up a great big lie about everything, just because the first question scared him/her.  If you suspect your child of drinking, do not straight-out ask him/her, “Have you been drinking?”  Take it slow, and start by asking things like, “Where have you been?” and “What did you do?”  If you question calmly and reasonably, your child will feel much less need to lie.

Although this will also gain me much hatred from many kids in America, I am going to reveal my parents’ best punishments, which can be used as a deterrent to lying.  When I was younger and my parents caught me lying, they would make me write from fifty to five hundred times the same sentence over and over.  I will not lie to my parents.  I will not lie to my parents.  I will not lie to my parents…This proved to be pretty effective, because I hated doing those lines so much.  Now that I am older, my parents’ two favorite punishments are to fine me or make me do work for them unpaid.  Believe me, all three of these techniques work, and if used as a punishment/deterrent for lying, I can guarantee their effectiveness.

With the proper amounts of lecturing, questioning, and punishment you will not be able to stop your child from lying entirely, but you can make a big reduction in the amount, seriousness, and frequency of their lying.

-Excerpt from Why Kids Lie:  How Parents Can Encourage Truthfulness


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