The Art of Lying
Why do children lie? I found myself pondering this when my kids were young. As a parent coach, I have found that numerous parents I work with are also asking themselves this question. Through the years of my own parenting and my extensive coaching certification program and practice, I have come to understand much more about the art of lying.
Lying, in my experience, occurs because of a few obstacles – obstacles that are preventing the truth. Our children want to be heard. All children need to feel that they have an opportunity to use their voice and share their thoughts and feelings about whatever is important in their life. When we give them the power to speak, we enable a depth of connection and contact that might have otherwise not existed. When they share their thoughts about the use of technology, going somewhere or whatever is important to them at that moment, and, as a parent, we fully listen and try to understand their view with compassion and mindfulness, it can make an enormous difference. That does not mean that we accept their view, but we do our best to understand where they are coming from. In more recent years, my children’s opinions and views have been heard and I have tailored my responses. Not only has this enabled them to feel empowered and part of the conversation but it has also prevented lying.
I am not saying that we should say yes to our children’s requests in order to prevent them from lying, but rather, I am focusing on empowering our children to calmly use their voice, and for us as parents to hear it. If we do that, we can make the best decision on the topic at hand with all the information- from our perspective and theirs.
Another obstacle that can contribute to lying is when children feel that they are going to get in trouble for the things that they want to do. When they don’t have a voice that is being heard and feel like they lack a deep connection with their parents, they try to avoid consequences. It becomes easier to lie than risk getting in trouble. Consequences are actually a big piece of the puzzle in the disconnection between parent and child.
Consequences can truly make a child proficient in the art of lying. I know this from my own experiences. Every action that was concerning for me when my kids were young had a consequence, one that I enforced. When kids are always faced with consequences for actions that merit no voice for themselves, they do become very clever at finding a way to do what they want in their life, which only propels the art of lying. However, when concerning behaviors are used as teaching tools and opportunities for sharing, communicating, and learning, there is not as much need for a child to lie – they are not in need of avoiding the punishment.
As the lying continued, I learned that punishing was not working. My children were not learning anything except how to avoid punishment by sneaking around, lying and staying clear of me. Through my own growth as a parent, I learned that the best thing for me to do was focus on the connection, allow for open communication and not focus on punishments. When I was able to let go of the punishment part, the relationships grew and the lying diminished. My children began to share their life with me without the fear of judgment and discipline. I worked hard to stay in neutrality, listen, and ask questions that helped them process their own choices and decisions. This change contributed to creating more peace and harmony in my family.
So, in order to keep this unfortunate art form from taking over, I recommend opening communication with your children, giving them a voice that is actually heard, empowering them to be part of the discussion, and using the conversation and openness as a means to teach not punish. This is a beautiful opportunity to create more connection and avoid this form of disconnection.
Many parents that I work with around the world are focusing on connecting deeply with their children, emphasizing open communication as opposed to fear of consequence. If you would like to discuss this, please reach out to me at [email protected]