Lying is a normal part of the developmental process. Children typically tell their first lie by age two or three which creates the understanding that their parents are not all knowing. Through adolescence, lying is part of the process of becoming an individual and maintaining a private life separate from parents. The average adult tells a lie about fourteen times a week for a variety of different reasons such as to save feelings from being hurt, to avoid conflict, or to shift blame.
When should I worry about my child's lying?
If you feel that your child cannot tell the difference between the truth and a lie, or if the lies are causing problems in his or her relationships, then it is time to address the lying. Here are five types of common lies and some suggestions on how to help your child find the way back.
Manipulative: The purpose lies is to get people to act or react in a certain way or to get a need met.
The effective way to deal with manipulative lying is to acknowledge the lie without feeling the need to lecture about truthfulness, and let the child know that they won't get what they want by lying.
Melodramatic: This type of lie is told to get attention or become the center of attention.
Let the child know that you see the lie, and then help them to come up with some alternative strategies they can use to get positive attention.
Grandiose: These lies are told to meet a need for approval.
Again, acknowledging the lie using language that lets them know you disapprove of the behavior, but not of them as a person. This type of lying may indicate that the child has low self confidence and may need some intervention to help them develop self awareness and self acceptance.
Guilty: This type of lying is similar to grandiose in that it is to avoid disapproval, but it comes from a place of guilt or shame rather than a need for positive attention.
Guilty lying comes from a place of fear and left untreated it can become compulsive. If you have concerns about guilty lying speak with a professional who can guide you through the steps of getting your child the support they need.
Evasive: Evasive lying is done to shift blame and avoid consequences.
In this case it may be appropriate to have two separate consequences, one for the original problem and another for the lying. This helps your child to understand that the cost of lying to avoid responsibility is greater than making things write and accepting the consequences of their actions.