Monday, September 20, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Lie: What To Do When Kids Lie

Truth or Consequences

Have you ever told a lie? If you are human, there is a good chance that you have. Although, us parents hate to admit it...especially in front of our children.

The truth is: We all lie...and even if it's just a little "white lie", it's still not the truth. We lie to get out of events or appointments that we would rather not attend. I've lied to the kid's pediatrician about the kids sleeping in their crib (see Co-Sleeping: The Real Deal - my kids have all slept in my bed from day one, against doctor's "orders"). And, let's not forget about certain holiday "characters" that I will not mention due to the fact that my children (or someone else's) may read my blog...I think you know who I mean...we tell those white lies and every story that comes with them, too.

I Hate Lying  

Despite the fact that I've lied a few times in my life...(as far as I remember)...

I hate lying. I hate when my kids do it. But, I completely understand the compulsion to do it. You lie because the truth could either get you in trouble or hurt someone's feelings. I think that's the bottom line.

But, lying can be extremely hurtful, too. Have you ever told a friend that they look absolutely fabulous when they really looked terrible in their new outfit? Let me break the news to you: your friend went out in public looking hideous because you didn't tell her that she looked awful. Um...that's hurtful, whether you meant to be or not.

Teach Your Children

It is vital to explain to your children how lying affects other people. Yes, sometimes it's easier to lie to get out of immediate trouble or to hedge around the possibility of hurting other people's feelings. And, sometimes, it's fun to lie and say someone else did it and get them into trouble.

Do the invisible children, "I didn't do it!" and "It wasn't me!" live in your house too? Sometimes, I wonder if I have more kids than I really do, because those two - I didn't do it and It wasn't me - do a lot of stuff around my house. 

Be The Example

In order to teach your children about lying, you need to be honest. If you MUST lie about something, don't let them know that you are doing it (for goodness sake!). We all know, as parents, that children learn by example. If they see or hear you lying, what type of message are you sending them?

Do you remember the phone call the other day when you told your sister that you were "too busy" to meet her for lunch. You had a meeting that started ten minutes ago and you were late...and, right after you hung up the phone, your kids asked you why you lied to Auntie? Duck around the corner, if you must, or practice telling the truth in a courteous and caring manner. "Well, I've just had so much running around to do lately and, to be quite honest with you, I'm just exhausted! Maybe we could meet up tomorrow? I'd love to catch up with you! It's been too long!"

Lying Role Models

Unfortunately, our children have some terrible "role models" to look up to...I'm going to throw out George W. Bush, the former President of the United States! I'm not sure if ANYTHING that came out of his mouth was truthful, yet our children our supposed to look up to him?

As a matter of fact, most of the politicians today seem to have trouble telling the truth...

Church clergy are officials are lying...everywhere we turn, a "role model" figure is telling a fib.

Lying Can Be Hurtful: How To Address It With Your Kids

Talk to your kids about how lying hurts other people. Be completely open-minded and give them concrete examples like the one above (about your friend and their new outfit). Ask them to tell you examples of situations that would prompt them to lie. Discuss "good lies" versus "bad lies". Is there ever an acceptable time to lie, in their opinion? Let them know your opinion about the "good lie" versus "bad lie" concept and if you think there is ever a good reason to lie.

Discuss how not telling the truth can affect more than just the immediate people involved. Talk about the "Big Picture" lies can spread and get bigger than they really ever started out to be. Explain how, although lying can be a quick-fix, it can also quickly snowball into more lies and...ultimately, a great big mess.

Why Would You Lie?

Ask them why they feel compelled to lie. "In what situation would you think you would need/want to lie?" Once you hear their opinions and reasoning about lying, you can help them understand that telling the truth is far better in the long run.

Let them come to their own conclusions by creating several hypothetical circumstances and asking questions. In what type of situation would you lie? Why would you lie? How could lying hurt other people in that particular situation? What are the possible consequences if you lie?

Is lying really the best method for solving the problem? The answer to this question is usually "No".

Talking About Lying

The best time to address lying is when it is not a problem or issue. In other words, come up with a spur of the moment discussion and bring it up rather than waiting for your child to lie. Your children will be more open to discussion and won't feel like they are put on the spot about their own behavior or defending themselves. You might even bring up an instance when YOU lied and tell them that you were wrong...and progress from there.

Who knows? You might even learn something about lying and telling the truth, too!


  1. I am not sure why you mentioned former President George W. Bush under role models lying, what about our current President, Obama. If anyone is a poor role model it is him. He lies more than any other President ever, he trashes our country when he goes abroad, he tells us we should cut back on what we spend, but our children see the parties he throws in the White House. I've had my son ask me why our President tells us we need to stop spending so much yet President Obama spends so much. He is a Sophomore in high school, watches the news and sees how we are being lied to by this administration, heck the Countries Treasurer didn't even pay his taxes, until he was caught. Why do people keep looking to the past when we have a such a liar in our present President. Does Transparency ring a bell, what transparency? And boy what a great role model who talks about health, yet he smokes. Now that is a true liar and hypocrite. He is why I have my site, survive the cost of living. Please don't bring politics to this site. You could have used anyone else that our kids look up to, why trash a former President and if you really wanted to why not bring up Bill Clinton, and Monica Lywinski, he lied under oath, if you want to talk about lying, use facts not an opinion.
    Other than that I agree, we as parents need to stop with all lies especially the ones that seem small to us, like your example of lying to get out of an appointment and having our children hear us. We need to stop the lying so our children learn what honesty is all about.

  2. Hey, thanks for your comment, Linda. To be quite honest with you, I write what's on my mind...right at that point in time, and when I thought about prominent liars in the public eye, well...Bush just came to mind first.

    I also have seen for myself enough lies come from Bush's mouth to stand behind what I say as a fact. He's the true reason why our economy suffered, as far as I am concerned. At least Clinton balanced the budget...and then along comes George W to tear it all apart. And, if I keep on typing, I'll end up in a long political spiel, so I'll stop here.

    Let's just say that I was just using one person that everyone knows as an example, and if people don't like it...well, they don't have to read it. :)

    I'll agree to disagree on the subject of Bush - nobody will ever convince me that he was was anything but a sorry excuse for a President.

  3. Why would you tell anyone that a former President was a liar, you could have used someone like Paris Hilton, or that Lindsy Lohan but you chose a President. I will never visit here again, I teach my children to respect all Presidents even if we don't agree with them. I will spread the word you are not the kind of Mom that should be giving advice.

  4. Debbie:

    I am sorry you feel that way.

    First of all, I'm not calling myself an "advice guru"...I post what I think on this blog, just like everyone else does on their blogs. I also choose not to delete yours will stay and I will allow people to make their own decisions whether they want to come back and visit Mommy Rantings or not.

    I will warn you, however, that when you tell people NOT to go somewhere, human nature will lead them there. So, I will not be offended if you tell people not to visit Mommy Rantings. I welcome their curiosity.

    If anyone wants to teach their children to look up to and respect liars, that is their own parenting choice. I, personally, won't teach my children to look up to liars, however, even if it IS the former President. They are intelligent and pick up lies on their own...

    By the way, are you the Perfect Mom that I've been searching for?


  5. Quite a furore here on Presidents!!!

    I would agree with Bethany (Queen Mom) about writing what on one's mind honestly.

    I do not belong to US but I follow politics of major countries and according to me, when non-US residents think of the current economical situation in US, we associate it with Bush and how his administration weakened the economy. This is not to say that Obama doesn't have his faults or that he is the perfect human being but people should realize that he has a big responsibility to bring the economy on track once again.

    @Debbie - To quote you: "I will never visit here again, I teach my children to respect all Presidents even if we don't agree with them."

    There is nothing wrong with teaching respect but you should focus more on teaching them to take "informed decision" and be "aware". Blind respect does not yield any results.

    FINALLY, no one is flawless - Bush, Clinton or Obama and other other personality mentioned in the comments section. WE can only rate them on the scale of 1 to 10 but the outcome is nonetheless same.

    Let a blog post be a simple expression of opinions...That's what we are here for...right???

  6. Hi, very interesting post, greetings from Greece!


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