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What to do when your preschooler lies

As a parent of a preschooler, you must have noticed children telling occasional fibs or tales about scenarios that never really happened. And just like any other parent, you must have ignored these ‘untruths’ without questioning the child. Even though the random stories narrated by your child don’t mean you have a future criminal on your hands, you should teach children the importance of honesty from an early age so they don’t have to rely on lying to resolve unwanted situations.

Before we discuss the reasons kids lie, let me assure you that it’s perfectly normal for kids between the ages of 3 and 5 to tell untruths now and then. They are not trying to deceive you in any way, as children of such young age are not aware that lying represents a lack of moral character. At this age, the line between reality and fantasy is still a bit fuzzy which is why their stories may sound somewhat exaggerated. However, it is important to start teaching children the difference in their early years to prevent the habit from becoming customary.

Why do preschoolers lie?

There are many reasons children lie to their parents, teachers, and caregivers. One of the primary reasons is to please the adults around them and/or avoid getting in trouble for any mischief. For example, a child who is often punished by parents is encouraged to lie in order to cover something up so they don’t get in trouble. Additionally, preschoolers who yearn for their parents’ attention might mistakenly believe that the only way to interact with them is through lying. Although the child is aware that he or she will be punished for the wrongful act, sometimes parental attention can only be won through inappropriate behavior rather than appropriate conduct.

Sometimes children lie because they are confused. As mentioned above, young children are unaware of the difference between fantasy and reality. They are unsure of what really happened and may innocently fill in the gaps with their active imaginations.

Children often fib to adults to get something they want, as well. For example, they may tell their grandma that they are allowed to have candies before dinner when in reality, they are restricted. Moreover, children make up stories to feel important in front of others, especially their peers.

Most importantly, preschoolers learn to lie from us. We adults often tell “white lies” as an excuse for something we were unable to do. Although we may have a good reason to lie, our children will consider it acceptable behavior and do the same in the future.

Ways to encourage honesty in children

The best way to make children understand the difference between truth and non-truth is to emphasize the importance of honesty in your family. Praise children for telling the truth and let them know that you feel disappointed when they lie to you. Share stories about honesty with children to teach the importance of being trustworthy. One good example of moral stories is The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which explains that lying can have serious consequences.

Connect with children

Reassure your preschooler that you love her no matter what. If she accidentally spills juice on your carpet, don’t scold her. Instead, be sympathetic and tell her to be more careful next time. Have her clean up with you and avoid making a big fuss over it.

Don’t accuse

Avoid situations in which your child has to lie. For example, if you find toys in the living room, beware of statements of blame. Instead, encourage confession from your children by saying, “I wonder how these toys got here?” or “I wish someone would help me clear up the area.”

Don’t punish

If your preschooler admits to doing something wrong, don’t be angry or punish them for their behavior. Children who are punished for the smallest of mistakes often become rebellious and avoid telling adults the truth in the future. Appreciate children for owning up to their mistakes and tell them that you trust them no matter what.

Avoid judgments

We all know that parental labels like “You are a good girl” or a “brave child” go a long way in building children’s self-esteem. The same goes for negative labels such as “You are a liar” or “Why can’t you ever tell the truth?” For children, these labels can become their identity. Rather than blaming them for what they did wrong, encourage them to be honest by saying, “This is not like you” and “You are always truthful to me.”

Be a role model

Children exhibit what we show them. Just like you, children can also foresee your untruths, which is why it is important that you model truth in front of them. As discussed above, children learn to lie from us. To make sure it doesn’t become a habit in your children, avoid the white lies that are a part of your daily living and be a role model of honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

December 20th, 2017

Posted In: Tips

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