My 10 year old girl lies about ridiculous things all the time! Why? What is going on?
My 10-year-old daughter lies about everything all the time…this morning it was really ridiculous. I asked her if she had her tennis shoes ready for P.E., she looked right at me while saying yes and minutes later as we are rushing off to the car she says to wait so she can go get her shoes! I said, “Why did you tell me you already had them” …the answer was “I don’t know” .I asked her “Why did you lie instead of earlier just saying you didn’t have them yet?” The shoe thing isn’t really a big deal, however, we go through this 3-4 times a day where she will tell me lies like her homework or chores are done and then 5 minutes before bedtime…she suddenly remembers to do her homework or chores! The answer when I ask her why she lied AGAIN is always “I don’t know”! I feel like I am going crazy! I am beginning to think she just never listens or hears me in the first place, that it’s not a lie and she just says “whatever”. This is a big problem and we fight about seemingly little things every day for no reason. It is at the point where I don’t even want to approach her about anything because we will fight or she won’t even hear me anyway so why say anything?? Is anyone else going through this?
Integrity is one of the most important values for us as parents in modern society. We do our best to be honest and to role model integrity to our kids and we expect them to do and to be the same. When we catch our child in a lie we become very emotional about it because it violates one of our core values and it jeopardizes the mutual trust on which we have been working so hard.
It is important to know that while all kids experiment with lying particularly between the ages of 4 – 6 as part as their healthy development process, when lying occurs at an older age and in a repetitive manner, parents should address the issue immediately and effectively.
In coaching we don’t focus on the reasons behind our behaviour, since it does not serve us to ask our child “Why are you lying?” I am not sure if they even know why they are doing it or if they are capable of expressing it to us. A better question to ask yourself or your child, providing he is old and mature enough, would be: “What do you need that lying gives you? Is it attention; is it a sense of freedom, or of control?” These questions when answered thoughtfully and honestly can pave the way to the beginning of trustful and open communication between the parent and the child.
Alongside this question and the effort to help your child by attending to their needs you also want to get the next few points across by communicating them to your child:
1. When you lie you risk losing the other person’s trust and this trust is difficult to rebuild.
2. Lies are always revealed at the end.
3. Think about a time when you have been lied to, how did it make you feel?
4. I will always love you and accept you no matter what, provided you are being honest with me.
5. In the case of this 10 year old, when lying has become a habit, I would explain that to the child and will make sure he understands that this is not who he is but rather a bad habit he has acquired and can be changed.
It is crucial to stop everything and take the time to talk to your child and make sure they understand how important this issue is. If you go on with your regular activities, the child gets the message that he can get away with lying since it is not such a big deal for you. This is a huge disservice for him in two ways. First, , neglecting to deal with lying will keep sabotaging your current relationship with your child and second, believing that he can get away with that gives him permission to continue with this negative and destructive habit. It will then become more rooted in his personality and harder to change in the future.
The last point I would like to make is that as a parent you want to make sure that you are indeed modeling integrity in your behaviour as well. Children learn by imitation and if we lack integrity it is hard to expect them to integrate this value.
If there is one message I would like to send to you as parents when dealing with children who lie it is this: Act on it strongly and immediately, it is just too important to ignore.