TELLING PORKIES: Children usually can learn to tell lies by around three years of age.
TELLING PORKIES: Children usually can learn to tell lies by around three years of age. Emma Reid

Children's lies can be for many reasons

THE first time you catch your child lying can be a shock, but it's something all children try at some point.

Children usually can learn to tell lies by around three years of age. This coincides with when your child starts to realise that you aren't a mind reader and they can say things that aren't true without knowing.

As they grow older they may start to lie more and get better at hiding it.

This is all about growing up and learning. But what can you do to encourage honesty and to discourage your child from lying?

Understand why they're doing it

It's always a good idea to understand a problem before trying to solve it.

Your child might be lying for a number of reasons, including to:

  • Cover something up
  • See how you'll respond
  • Make their story more exciting
  • Get attention
  • Get something they want.

Knowing which of these reasons is behind the lie will help you figure out how to respond.

Create a home environment that encourages honesty

Once children are old enough to understand when something is true or not true, it's good to emphasise the importance of honesty in your family.

You can do this by praising your child for honesty - even if it sometimes takes you a while to get them to be honest.

You can also send a clear message by telling your child that you don't like it when they lie to you.

For example, saying something such as: "When you don't tell me the truth, I feel sad and disappointed."

What to do when they lie

Firstly you should avoid telling your child that they're a "liar". This label won't help their self-esteem and might lead to even more lying.

That is, if your child believes they're a liar, then they might as well as keep lying.

It's actually a great idea to exaggerate or joke about your child's lie.

Keep the joke going until your child owns up. This way, you uncover the lie and teach a lesson without any need for discipline or conflict.

But if your child keeps sticking to a deliberate lie, you might want to reinforce the idea that lying isn't okay by using an appropriate discipline strategy.

As always, if you have further questions about this , chat to your GP or visit our WBHHS child health team at the Margaret Rose Centre, 312 Bourbong St, Bundaberg.

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