Addressing lying in older children

Pretend your son and his friend are playing basketball in the driveway. When his friend hits at long range and proceeds to celebrate, your son gets angry and hurls the ball at him. When you intervene he insists he didn’t do what you just witnessed through the window.

Now what?

When it’s obvious a child is lying, tell him that you (or another witness) saw him do what he denies. Then you must deal with the misbehavior and the lie.

First and foremost, deal with the misbehavior.

Whenever possible, give your child the opportunity to undo what he has done; in this situation that would be to offer an apology. Then impose a reasonable punishment: “You’re showing me that you can’t play basketball safely.”

“No, I can! I promise I can.”

“We’ll try again later, but for now we’re going to stop.”

In private, talk about what occurred, including the fact that your son lied to you.

If lying is an ongoing problem, counseling is advisable. If this is more of an isolated incident, discuss the importance of being honest — that lying is wrong; others won’t like him if he lies; and they won’t trust his word.

Inquire as to whether he has ever been lied to and how it made him feel.

In this instance, as well as all others, you see how very important parental example is. Try not to lie to your child, and always keep your promises – or explain why if you can’t.

 Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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    About Victoria Todd, Child Psychoanalyst

    Victoria Todd, LISW-S, Child & Adolescent Psychoanalyst, is a summa cum laude graduate of Case Western Reserve University with a B.A. in Sociology and Psychology and a master’s degree in Social Administration.
    She developed the “My Mad Feelings” curriculum to prevent bullying by working with children as young as 4 to understand their emotions and appropriately express themselves.
    A qualified child psychoanalyst, she completed her training at the Hanna Perkins Center for Research in Child Development.
    A member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, the Association for Child Psychoanalysis and the Cleveland Psychoanalytic Center, she teaches classes and workshops at Case Western Reserve University. She served on the Treatment Subcommittee of the Ohio Child Sexual Abuse Grant and was a member of the Guardian ad Litem Advisory Board and the Children at Risk Coalition.

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