Drop of Life Clinicians utilises information from our learning and experience and bring it to our practice and blogs.
A number of parents have been asking me about lying over the last few months. Whilst the below information is useful for parents who are currently experiencing this frustrating issue, it’s also a good resource for those who wish to be proactive.
Emotional intimacy with our children is a fragile gift that can easily break when we erode trust through punishments, shame, blame, scolding, or manipulation. When our children’s behaviour is off-track, they need us to calmly stop them, help them, and guide them. They need to know we’re always in their corner (rather than sending them off to one), and that we will create safety – not only physical safety, but also safety in our regard for them – safety in our love and our “like,” a 100% safe relationship.
Alternatively, shaming or punishing children for lying creates distance and mistrust, which only encourage kids to lie better.
As for consequences, with the respectful parenting approach, consequences aren’t tactics to be “implemented” like just another form of punishment. If there are consequences, they are honest sharing of our own truths as parents. So, if there was a consequence in the case of a 6-year-old lying, it might look something like this (shared calmly and nonjudgmentally): “I am not going to be able to let you go to Juliet’s house again if you can’t tell me the truth about what you two did. I’m just not comfortable.”
There are a variety of reasons a child might lie in the early years (most of them so perfectly harmless that describing them as “lies” seems too strong a word). They are all motivated by the same thing: lying feels preferable to that child. In that particular moment, they may be experiencing:
Remedy: Respectful, empathic guidance (for much more detail on this particular part, please refer to the webpage)
Remedy: Create safety with nonjudgmental responses like, “I hear you saying you didn’t hit your brother. It seems that he was hit. Please let me know whenever you feel like hitting, so I can be there to keep you safe.”
Remedy: Diffuse these tests by taking them in stride and connecting lightly and knowingly. “Hmm… you didn’t let the dog out, and yet out he is… Verrrry mysterious.”
Remedy: None. No need to worry, just enjoy with them. “You’re a purple dragon? Ah, yes, I can totally see that now.”
Remedy: Again, visualization is positive and healthy, so I would connect rather than correct. “You felt yourself going down the highest slide today. How did that feel?”
In all cases, our openness, curiosity and unruffled, unthreatened, patient responses are the best way to diffuse the need to fabricate. And they also go a long way in forging a relationship that forever eliminates the need for avoidance of the truth.
By Janet Lansbury