Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!
Stop being a liar! You know that mommy hates liars and you are lying!”
I was a witness to this ugly interaction a few days ago and it really stayed with me. There was no question that the six-year old lied about throwing the ball over the fence. But in my books, what the mother did was a lot worse than what the kid did.
Let’s break it down, the mom labeled the kid a liar and then said that she hates liars. Translation into kidspeak: “I hate you.”
That’s a heavy burden for a kid to hear. Every parent makes mistakes while angry, and especially when they feel they are being watched. But this mom then turned to me and said, “I tell her all the time to stop lying, I really hate liars.” Therefore underscoring the label once again.
As this helpful article points out, kids lie for a lot of different reasons. And the way to teach your kids not to lie is to ignore the lie and focus on the action. I know it sounds counterintuitive but by focusing on what really happening you are not acknowledging the lie and you are sending a message to your child that you do not listen to lying.
Is there really a greater fear than your kid turning into a habitual liar? That your kid has a secret life that you do not know about because they honed their deceitful act at such a young age? Because obviously a child who lies at the age of four will turn into a thieving, evil drop-out. But we can’t let our fears run away with us, it is normal developmentally to try out lying at different stages of childhood. It is the parents’ job to teach kids that they can’t get caught up in their own fears and make a huge case out of the lie. That will only encourage more lying and the cycle will continue.