The Trap of Forced Truth
Kylie’s frustrated with her oldest son, Jacob who is 9 years old. Jacob won’t stop lying about everything! Even in situations when Jacob is clearly lying, when the evidence against him is indisputable, he still lies. Yesterday, Kylie watched Jacob hit his younger sister. Kylie asked Jacob why he hit his sister. Jacob said he didn’t hit her. Kylie said she saw the whole incident and demanded Jacob tell the truth. Jacob refused, telling more lies instead. Kylie eventually gave up and walked away because she was so angry.
Kylie thinks she’s doing the right thing by trying to get Jacob to tell the truth, but really all she’s doing is giving Jacob more opportunities to lie and to tell better lies
- Children generally receive a lot of attention for telling lies, but very little attention for telling the truth
- The more a parent pushes a child to tell the truth, the more opportunity there is for the child to tell more lies
Strategy: Stop Feeding the Lie
- If you suspect (or know) your child is lying, issue them a negative consequence. Don’t question the lie, demand the truth, or give any more attention than necessary to the lie.
- Don’t take the lie personally. Children don’t understand lies in the same way adults do. Even for teenagers, their understanding is not as advanced as an adult.
This strategy won’t work in every situation. But, it’s a good start for trying to figure out how to change a child’s behavior for the better.