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The Busy Parent’s Guide to Encouraging Your Kids to Tell the Truth

Do you struggle with getting your children to tell the truth? It can be baffling to know what to do when your child is making up a story and sticking to it. Try these strategies to encourage your kids to level with you.

Strategies To Use At Every Age

  1. Provide a good role model. The most important thing you can do is to demonstrate the importance of honesty in your own daily activities. Pay the full ticket price for kids who look small for their age. Resist making excuses when you get a parking ticket.
  2. Identify the underlying causes. Kids may lie for many reasons. Often, they’re trying to avoid being punished. They may also be afraid of disappointing you. Or they may even be trying to conceal unpleasant facts from themselves! When you know what your child is feeling, you’re better positioned to respond appropriately.
  3. Reward truthfulness. Let your kids know that honesty pays. Even if they accidentally break a neighbor’s window when they’re playing softball, praise them for coming clean about it.
  4. Impose reasonable consequences. Kids are more likely to cover things up if they’re unsure what will happen to them or if they fear punishment. Try to be consistent with how you discipline them. You set the rules for your own household, but it may be helpful to survey what other parents do in the same circumstances.
  5. Talk about values. Begin early with discussing values with your kids. Talk about the benefits of being honest and treating people well. Use examples from everyday life or the daily news to illustrate your points.
  6. Remain calm. Your kids will likely be more attentive if you keep your emotions in check. It can be distressing to find out your child deceived you, but focus on resolving the conflict.
  7. Avoid show downs. Make it as easy as possible for your kids to be honest. If you already know they told a fib, ask them how you can work together to improve the situation instead of putting them on the spot to elicit a confession.
  8. Assume innocence. Some studies claim that people lie three times a day or more. Still, that means we’re telling the truth most of the time. Give your kids the benefit of the doubt to preserve trust and harmony.
  9. Seek professional help. If you’re concerned that your child shows destructive patterns of deception, consider professional counseling to learn more effective ways to interact.

Strategies To Use At Specific Stages

  1. Wait until kids know fact from fiction. Most kids are unable to understand the distinction between telling the truth and telling a lie until they are about 5 years old. You can start training them in the right direction, but punishment is meaningless when it’s premature.
  2. Indulge fantasies. Imaginary friends are part of growing up. As long as your children seem happy and comfortable with real people, encourage their sense of play.
  3. Recognize your child’s growing independence. As they enter the tween years, kids are likely to begin keeping more secrets. Keep the lines of communication open, but respect their growing need for autonomy.
  4. Enforce limits with teens. On the threshold of adulthood, teens face many decisions that could determine their future. Set clear rules for telling the whole truth about driving, drinking and other priority subjects.

Most people lie from time to time, including kids. Setting a good example, discussing values, and rewarding honesty are the most effective ways to encourage your children to tell the truth.