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Our children lie for the same reasons we lie. We cannot blame them if they want to feel safe because they feel threatened or want to avoid punishment. But more often than now, we, the parents, are the ones encouraging our children to tell lies.
How is it possible, you might ask? Sometimes, because of the tight reins we place around our kids, they are prompted to keep secrets. While this is a chicken and egg issue, we really can’t deny that their fear of our disappointment, disapproval, or doubt is a factor. Here are some practices in which we could teach our children the importance of honesty.
Be a role model. Children who used to lie almost always have parents that did the same thing; especially nowadays when our youth can easily notice that their parents are up to something. Our simple fabrications can really trigger their attention.
For instance, once in a while we try to hide from somebody on the phone, or lie to a traffic officer when we get caught while driving without a license. Be very conscious of your actions, because even unintentionally we teach our children to lie and encourage them to practice it.
Practice honesty with your children. Most parents treat their kids as, well, kids. We usually think they do not understand what is going on and cannot handle serious and emotional problems. Take for example the case where a loved one’s health is deteriorating. Telling your children that everything is just fine when they obviously see that the whole family is in great pain will only confuse them. It is better if we explain things and situations to them in a manner that is realistic, yet still fit for their age.
Give them freedom of expression. If we tend to be overly restrictive, they will fear the consequences not following us and end up lying. Try to accept your child’s misbehaviors sometimes. Set up open communication in which they can state what is on their minds, as well as their opinions about certain things. Teach them to express their feelings in a good way, without malice or anger. This allows them to talk back without being disrespectful. In this manner, it becomes easy for them to tell the truth.
Check out your child’s environment. Even at an early age your child can identify fantasy from truth. Their playmates can really influence them to tell tall tales. To avoid these circumstances, apply the circle of trust concept. Illustrate how your family practices telling the truth, because it is the foundation of your love for each other, and not to expect others outside of it to do the same. In this way, you can make them aware of the difference between their playmates families and theirs. But if your child begins to be influenced by the wrong behavior of other kids, gradually veer your child away from them.
Honesty is always the best policy. It is the fundamental element of happy and trusting relationships. If you practice absolute honesty, your child will find it easy to embrace the same principle.