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What is all the Lying About & What Can you Do?

Welcome to Tea & Tips, where we respond to burning questions from parents and educators — taking aim on one topic at a time, guiding you to improve communication, confidence and calm.

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Diane:
So, one of the most common challenges that parents bring to us is that their kids are not being honest, that they're lying all the time, and that there's some significant trust issues because they don't know ... Great example, my kid said they had to finish their homework and they really haven't. So, they don't ever trust their kid to say that they finished their homework because there's been times that they haven't.

Elaine:
This could be a really big issue for us as parents because a lot of us have a really strong value around honesty. So, our kids start behaving differently and we start to catastrophize who they're going to be in 20 years if they're lying to us about their homework now.

Diane:
You can't lie. It's a rule in our house. We never lie, you know? So, we get kind of caught up in that value and it makes perfect sense that it would be a hard thing for us to work with. We want to challenge you to put that on the side because it's really not about the lying. There's really something going on underneath it that your child probably needs some help with. So, we want you to focus there.

Elaine:
So there are a few reasons that we see dishonesty showing up in our population. One is what we call defensive dishonesty and that's where they start lying to protect themselves, either because they're tired of being wrong all the time or because sometimes there's a magical thinking and they think they're going to be able to fix it. Right? They believe they can.

Diane:
Right. So they'll tell you they got it. It's like, "I got this mom." Or "I did it." Because they figure that by the time you actually go and check it'll be done. The other thing, honestly is with some of our kids there's a working memory issue.

Elaine:
Yeah, they don't remember.

Diane:
Especially with routine chores like feeding the dog. If they remember feeding the dog ever because it looks the same kind of every single day. They may actually think that they just fed the dog, even if it was yesterday.

Elaine:
They may not actually be lying. They may just not actually remember whether they did or didn't. Right, and so strategies for that, you make sure you know. You put this away, or that so that you can remember if working memory is an issue.

Diane:
Well, the other thing is a lot of times they just kind of give up, right?

Diane:
It's hard to say I gave up so its easier to say I did it. So, I think that the piece that we want to focus in on is instead of focusing on the lying, really take that moment and ask, "What is going on?" We can it WIGO. What Is Going On? Ask yourself what's going on with my kid that's making it hard for them to be honest in this situation? Again, they get a lot of opportunity to be wrong. So, that may be ... It may be just as simple as that. As about creating some safe space for them to have screwed up and to make it okay to do that.

Elaine:
Right. Well, so because lying can be the distraction to something else. Right? If we hone in on the lying we miss the other issues that your kids may really be struggling that are leading them to those lies in the first place.

 

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