Sunday, June 19, 2016

When Kids Lie

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My kid lies all the time. Darla, (not her real name) is 10 years old and she’s been lying to her friends, boys, and us since she started school.

Darla started lying about little things when she was in first grade, like she said she had dozens of shoes, she said she had blisters on her toes from dance class, and a million other little things.

The first time Darla lied a big lie was last week, when she told her friend that she had a baby sister at home.

Her friend asked to see Darla’s sister and I was standing right there in the kitchen and Darla said, “She’s sleeping.”

I was surprised but I didn’t want to embarrass Darla so I played along with her about a baby sister. The friend found out that Darla was making it up.

Darla got mad and let us “have it” when her friend left. Darla said she just wanted to be normal like everyone else who has brothers and sisters.

I tried to be understanding, but her dad blew up about the lying and yelled at her, sent her to her room!

I feel upset, but stuck in the middle about her harsh punishment.

Signed,
Our Daughter is a Liar

Dear Mom,


As best you can, try not to label your daughter as a liar. Why? Because many kids will live up to their labels and judgments, true or not. Why? Because they have already incurred the punishment of being judged and feel powerless.

Kids sometimes lie to gain control. Help her to feel in control with reasonable decisions that she may make when you provide an either or choice.

Use Darla’s single incidents as problems with solutions to help her learn that she doesn’t need to lie to feel powerful, in control, and worthy of attention.

Let’s start with the lie Darla made about having lots of shoes. Let her know that even if she only has one pair of shoes, if they’re fit, clean and go reasonably well with her clothes, that she may feel good about having one pair.

Three pairs of shoes are ideal for one to have for sporty situations, school or semi-casual and one dressy for church or special occasions. Take her shopping to pick out the best fitting, best looking pairs she may find in thrift stores, discount stores, or on sale.

We suspect Darla lied about blisters on her toes because she feels she needs more attention and/ or she is experiencing a lot of emotional pain. If you give her bad attention for lying, she’ll make her injuries bigger and more dramatic until her need for more attention is addressed.

Address Darla’s emotional pain with bite-size conversations like, “What went well today … tell me one thing.” And “What was your biggest challenge or difficulty today and how can we change that for tomorrow?”

On to the baby-sister dilemma: Don’t make lying okay by keeping Darla’s lies going on. Teach her to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have a baby sister. I see how much fun it is for you to have one. I wanted to be happy like you. I won’t lie to you again.”

More than anything else, learning to problem-solve together will help Darla grow, love herself, as well as others, and love and respect honesty.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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