Lying is something I am hearing about a lot recently. Teens themselves are complaining a lot about their friends lying or even getting caught in their own web of fables. Parents, seem exhausted by the constant exaggerating, lying or fibbing that they are constantly having to decipher with their tweens and kids. I think this is a serious issue that is not written about enough because everyone is talking about it, but no one knows others are talking about it. Parents of fibbers come to me with their head hung low or with an email that starts off with a paragraph saying they feel bad that their kid is the only one doing it. Everyone is having this issue, and everyone should be dealing with it immediately, because often times, I think that lying with kids only gets worse.
1) Lazy Lies
First lets make a distinction. I think many teens ‘lazy lie’ these are lies they make when they just do not want to do something else. It is important to be able to recognize these from actual menaving lies, like:
“I already finished my homework, so can I watch the end of Lost?”
“I took the cups down from my room”
2) Forgetful Lies
Or there are lies that they truly do not remember the answer too. This happens a lot when I work with kids on school work pride and taking a larger role in their learning. They truly do not remember what the truth is, so they make something up and try to convince you (and themselves) that this is the truth.
“I swear we do not have to do the whole chapter of reading for homework tonight.”
“Mom did say we could have dessert after dinner even if we didn’t finish our pasta. I think…well I was watching Hannah Montanna when she was talking about it, but I am pretty sure that is what she said”
3) Persuasive Lies
These can bend the truth or be a flat out manipulation in order to get what you want. You find teens doing this especially when it comes to new house rules, time with friends or new priviledges.
“Jessie’s parents will be home. Jessie told me so himself”
“Dad told me to tell you that I can go out and play now.”
These lies can usually be debunked with a simple yell down to dad or a fact check. If you catch your kid in one of these it is important to take some serious consequences (see below) right away.
4) White Lies
My parents explained what this was to me when I was little and I think it was important for me to know at a young age. A white lie is a lie that you tell for someone elses benefit or because you think the truth is unnecessarily painful.
“Mom you look soooooo skinny!”
“Oh yes, grandma, your casserole was the best on the table.”
I don’t think kids have the aptitude, nor should they have the need to tell white lies…afterall aren’t kids the only people who tell it like it is? I also think that there are certain adults who prefer the truth no matter how hard it is to hear.
5) Compulsive Lying
This is the kind I worry about most. Even though it is the most frequent kind of lying, it can be the hardest to detect. This is because teens and people who compulsively lie, often have layers upon layers of fibs and one cannot know how to decipher between truth and reality. Moreover, compulsive liars themselves sometimes get confused about what is true and false and often can be very persuasive.
How to Deal with Kid Liars:
Here are some options to think about if you are seeing lying with your kids:
- Serious the first time: The first time you find your kid lying or catch them in a fib, I would make a very serious deal out of it so they realize right away how bad lies can be. Often times, I think teens and kids get away with small lies, or are caught to not much consequence and figure that lying is much easier than truth. You need to show them this is not the case.
- Consequence and Lie Tie-In: Consequences for lying should have to do with the actual lie. If they are caught stealing candy, they should have to pay out of their allowance and go buy new candy with you.
- Rewards! If you have serious consequences, with teens you can also think about having rewards. If you have a compulsive liar, you could make a rule where every week that goes by without lies, you will give her a ____ (whatever she likes) maybe 10 songs on iTunes. Make it small enough so they can be incentivized and large enough to make them want it.
- Examples: This is one case where I think personal stories and examples are useful. When I speak with teens I often give them very personal examples of how I or friends have been caught in lies with serious…or sometimes no consequences and the effect both had on me and those around me.
- Mental Lie Guilt: I think it is important to explain to kids that even if they do not get caught, there is a very definite mental effect on your own lies. Tell them about how people who steal or do something bad and then do not talk about it…often the worst punishment is your own guilt. This is a perspective most kids have not heard, but is very real.
Most of all, talk to your kids about lying and know that if it is a problem in your house, you are not alone. This is a normal part of growing up and can be stopped if dealt with directly. Hope this post has helped, feel free to add your stories or ideas in the comments.