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Dealing with lying

October 6th, 2007

“I didn’t do it!”

“I didn’t steal it, she gave it to me!”

Lying is one offense that I will not put up with. It is not only an affront to the people you are lying to, but it ultimately robs you of your character. Having a good character is the value of being human.

When we hear of high school or college students cheating on tests, don’t we say, “They are only cheating themselves”? Lying takes something important away from those who practice it. Therefore, honesty is one virtue that needs to be instilled in children early in life. If they grow up thinking that lying is ok, just as long as you don’t get caught, they in affect lose a part of their soul.

All kids tell lies at one time or another. They will not become honest just from one or two lectures from you. This is certainly a huge topic with lots of resources and information written about it. So I will just keep it simple and practical here with a few suggestions for dealing with small children when they lie. Older children can be treated similarly. However, as they get older, there are more underlying issues associated with their lies that need to be dealt with.

Simple suggestions for dealing lying:

1. Like most virtues, honesty is more caught than taught. Make sure you are modeling honesty. Do you lie about your child’s age in order to get a cheaper admission ticket to the movies or amusement park? Do you lie to your boss? Do you lie to your relatives when you don’t want to see them? Honesty has to be our character and a way of life with us as parents if we expect it in our children. If we live our lives hypocritically, what can we expect from our children?

2. If you catch your children lying, confront them immediately. Asking your child, “Are you lying?” merely tempts them to lie again! Instead, state their untruth plainly in detail. “You said you did not steal the pencil from Johnny. That is not true, is it?” When they hear it said aloud, they will know that the lie is exposed. They cannot hide from it. That is the first step to repentance. Call the sin what it is without softening it. Say “steal” instead of “take”, “lie” instead of “exaggerate”, “hit your friend” instead of “mistreat your friend”.

3. Keep your voice calm when you talk to your child about her lying. If you start yelling, she may try to cover up with more lies, or merely say what you want her to say to appease your anger.

4. Allow your child to confess his guilt in his own words. You can say, “Tell me exactly what you did.” Ask him for details. Do not allow him to just say yes or no. Do not gloss over the deed lightly. This will help him with cleansing his guilty conscience as well as seeing for himself the bad thing that he did.

5. After he confesses, the child needs to make restitution. You can take him to his friend’s house to give back the stolen toy and apologize. There does not need to be more punishment if he shows true repentance for what he has done.

When dealing with misbehavior, we as parents need to see ourselves as teachers, not policemen. You do not want your children to live in fear of you catching them do something wrong. Teaching is best done within a loving relationship with your children.

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  1. thanks katy this was helpful!


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