METRO PLUS

Why do children lie?

SET AN EXAMPLE It's not enough if we read them moral stories

SET AN EXAMPLE It's not enough if we read them moral stories  

If truth is a value we want our children to imbibe, it has to be practised by all family members

As parents, we all want our children to be honest. If our children lie to us about the smallest thing, our first reactions are, "How can you tell a lie? If you tell lies like this who will ever believe you? Telling lies is a bad thing to do!"Instead, do we as parents ask ourselves the question, "Why did my child feel the need to lie to me?" Or "Where did my child learn to lie?"

The reasons

*Because they are not allowed to tell the truth. When a child says honestly, "I hate my brother", he is so strongly reprimanded for it that he learns not to be honest about his feelings in the future.*To escape punishment or scolding. A child breaks a glass. The mother hears the noise and comes out and says angrily, "Who broke this?" In self-defence the child immediately responds, "I did not do it".*To avoid doing something they find unpleasant - brushing teeth, washing hands or finishing homework. *To avoid parental disapproval. "I did not hit him"*To enjoy in fantasy what they lack in reality. "We played cricket and I alone scored all the runs". *To cover up for a friend or sibling. "I don't know who tore the book."And to avoid hurting the feelings of the adult. Thank you, I like the book you gave me.In the situations described above, how could a parent respond in a way that encourages honest communication? Acceptance of feelings about his brother "I know that sometimes you feel angry with him." Statement of fact "I see that the glass is broken, let's clean up together." This gives the message that we all make mistakes. For tasks that children avoid like homework, for example, confrontation does not help. Only by being trusted and given responsibility do children learn to be self-disciplined. A child who denies hitting his friend does so because he does not expect his parent to try to understand or empathise with his feelings. Instead of scolding with an accusatory tone we could try and understand the situation. "What happened? Did something make you angry? Try using words to express your anger not fists." The child has been guided without humiliation. To say, "I too wish I hit a century" shows that you understand his aspirations.In all these situations, the key to building honesty lies in the relationship between parent and child. The more authoritarian and harsh the parent, the more often the child will lie. Is the best way to `improve' a child always to correct and scold? Compassion and empathy will go a long way in getting your children used to telling the truth and making sure they do not react with a lie to any and every uncomfortable situation.The second question of where children learn to lie is equally important. While we speak eloquently about the importance of truth and read them moral stories, what do they actually see us doing? We adults all tell `little white lies' to simplify our lives, to save time and to spare others' hurt feelings. But when it comes from children, we get enraged, hysterical and moralistic. But our day is peppered with simple untruths: "Just answer the phone and say that I am not home." "Don't tell your teacher that we went out, tell her you were sick." Then there are lies we tell the children: "We cannot go to the beach today. The beach is closed." "Don't worry, I will be standing right here at your school gate." "I cannot take you because I am going to the doctor."We must realise that sooner or later, children will find out that we have lied to them. In one of our workshops when we examined this question, parents realised with shock that they lie to their children from morning to night. One parent exclaimed, "Now I really wonder how my child believes a word of what I say!"If truth is a value we want to teach our children it has to be practised by all members of the family for it to become a way of life. UMA SHANKER
KESANG MENEZES
(POSITIVEPARENTINGWORKSHOP@GMAIL.COM)
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