How To Parent Your Kids When They Lie To You

parenting kids when they lie

A big thank you for everyone that offered up advice on how to parent lying kids. Last week on Instagram I asked you all how to parent kids when they lie and I received thoughtful advice from pediatricians, nurses, moms, and school teachers. Each person had a nugget of wisdom, and everyone responded from a place of love and understanding. You all are amazing!

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, let me bring you up to speed. The past week or so our girls have been making little lies here and there. One child understands the severity of lying and that it ruins trust and is disobedient to both us and God. However, our other daughter is having a harder time grasping the concept of lying and why it’s bad.

We were having such a hard time knowing how to get through to her and what the appropriate consequences would be. So, I turned to you all for advice! The little nuggets of wisdom that each of you had was so good, so as promised, I’ve created today’s blog post to share it all with you!

God Made You The Mama

But, above all, I want you to remember and rest in the fact that no matter what you are going through with your kids;  no matter how inadequate you may feel as a parent, God made YOU the mama. God chose YOU to be the mom of your kid(s) and that was by perfect design.

parenting kids when they lie

What To Do When Your Kids Are Lying To You:

Discipline The Lie

Discipline the lie and not the thing they are hiding. I loved this because I think it helps the child understand that lying is always worse than whatever you may be lying about.

Don’t Give Them The Opportunity To Lie

This advice was given to me years ago and I still love it: don’t give your kids the opportunity to lie. For example, let’s say your child put their gum in the carpet. Instead of saying “did you just put your gum in the carpet?” you would say “I see that you put your gum in the carpet. You know that is not allowed, so now your discipline will be _____.”

Stay Consistent

Whatever type of discipline you decide on, stay consistent. Kids respond better when things are black and white, when they know what to expect.

Stay Emotion-Free

Be a “safe place for your kids to land.” If you over react when your kids lie to you. If you consistently overreact, your kids will stop coming to you when they have messed up. You will no longer be a safe place for your kids.

Rather, if you learn to stay emotionless you allow yourself to be a safe place for your kids even in the midst of discipline. Discipline the sin. Keep things black and white. Don’t respond emotionally.

It’s a Heart Issue

This was a piece of advice another mama offered up and it really resonated with me. She posited that there is no amount of discipline and no type of discipline that will change your child’s heart; only God can do that. What a huge reminder that we need to be constantly praying for our children that they would seek Christ above all else and that He would change their little hearts.

Understanding Feelings

We are constantly trying to create an environment for our girls where they know it’s okay to feel mad or sad or happy. We want them to know their feelings and be able to feel them fully. I love what one mom said when she told me that instead of punishing her child, she talk with her about how it makes her feel. She talks with her about how lying makes the child feel, her friends feel, or her family feel when they are lied to. They discuss that lying hurts people and makes us feel sad.

Discussing trust also falls under this category. Explain that in order for a family to trust each other, all parties must tell the truth.

Sin Is Sin, It’s Not a Reflection of You

Sin is sin and takes so many forms. Sin looks different for all kids and parents. What may be a struggle for one child might not be for the next. This was a good reminder that sin is exactly that, sin. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Rather, it’s just part of our nature.

Positive Reinforcement

Several of you touched on this and I think it’s an important piece of advice. While discipline may look different from child to child, it’s important to reinforce good behavior. Make sure you are seeking positive reinforcement when your child tells the truth.

This can take the form of verbal praise or even earning something back. We tried this with our youngest lasts week and it worked wonders. She had the opportunity to lie (about breaking our bed) and instead, chose to tell us the truth. We praised her heavily for telling the truth even when it was hard and then she got to have her stuffed animals back (that she lost previously) one day early.

Work For a Reward

Allow your child to work for a reward that she desires. Let her be a part of choosing the reward. For example, “if you tell the truth today, you get ___ after dinner,” or “if you choose to tell the truth all week, we’ll get ice cream after school.” This allows the child to take ownership of their actions.

Short Periods of Discipline

Instead of creating one long punishment, keep the discipline period short. So, instead of taking your child’s toys away for a week, take them away for one day. This allows them the have the chance to earn them back or to be praised for positive behavior.

Let The Little Lies Go

They become better at it if not. Parent the big ones and let the little lies go.

The Lie Is Always Worse

I love the advice one mom gave that she assures her children that “no matter how shameful or bad” the behavior might be, her kids will never be in trouble for telling the truth.

Unconditional Love

This was touched on my several women and I  could not agree with it more. No matter how you discipline or what you’re disciplining, remind your kids that they are loved unconditionally. We try and do this consistently with our girls so that even if they are “in trouble” they can stand firm in our love for them and Christ’s love for them.