3 Keys to Durable Trust
How To Stop Your Kids From Lying
By Leeza Carlone Steindorf
The sound of breaking glass catapulted me into the living room where my five-year-old daughter was playing. Shards of broken glass scattered the floor where my favorite blue vase used to stand, and my blond-haired, innocent-looking child stood within feet of the mess. “I didn’t do it, Mama,” burst from her mouth.
We’ve all asked ourselves, why do they lie? Don’t they trust us? Know that we want their best? Are they just bad kids?
Lying is not human nature, a fact of life, or in the fine print of the How To Be A Kid Manual. It’s more simple than that. Lying is a learned habit or, better said, we teach our children to lie. Deep breath …
As we cleaned up the mess, I felt a strong desire to understand not how the vase broke, but why she would lie about it, and so rapid-fire at that. She cast her earnest eyes down when I asked, and muttered softly, “because when I tell the truth you get mad … and I don’t like that.” Wow. That realization hit me like a wall.
Recovering quickly, I thought smugly – no problem. This is an easy fix. “Tell you what,” I said, “from now on, you tell me the truth and I won’t get mad. How’s that sound?” “Promise?” she asked. “Absolutely,” I answered, naïvely. She got the easy job. My work had just begun.
How to stop training your children to lie
Believe your kids. We are taught that kids want to push our buttons, make our lives hard, or will say anything to get what they want. Maybe sometimes. But never should we stake our entire relationship with them on these falsehoods. Believe your children and let them know you do. When you think they are lying, give them the benefit of the doubt and tell them so. This builds trust in you and confidence in your faith in them. If you believe in their honesty, they will learn to as well (even if it takes time) and grow the courage to tell the truth.
Dismiss anger as a tool. Anger is not a sign of strength, but of helplessness. When you are sure and solid in your perspective and decisions, there’s no need to be angry. You may not like what has happened, but anger becomes superfluous (small statement, big job). The book Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner is an amazing tool. Strength Without Anger videos by Raun Kaufman give huge insights into revamping your anger code. Be honest about your disappointment, sadness, or frustration. But dismissing anger as your tool of choice will have far a reaching impact, with encouraging honesty being only one.
Identify the consequences. Punishment imposes restrictive, painful or unrelated actions to an event. Consequences are directly related and are educational, intending to train desired and useful behavior. The Discipline With Dignity module in the Parenting Success Blueprint explains consequences in-depth and teaches you how to engage effective consequences. They help children learn to respect agreements and boundaries, as well as how to be respectful, be kind and to feel good about themselves.
Teaching our children how to be honest is not a one-shot deal, but a process. Believing your children will help them feel trustworthy and know that you are dependable, no matter what. Finding alternative responses to anger and using more impactful tools grows your parenting toolbox. Applying consequences instead of punishment helps children train behavior that feels good, learn to respect others and grow into their full and positive potential.