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9 Tips to Help You Make Your Children Tell the Truth

 Raising children is certainly a challenge for many parents, especially when there is no way to know what it will bring with it each day and what potholes wait for us along the way. One of the biggest problems parents face is lying children, which can lead to quite a few conflicts between the two sides, especially if not handled in time. In order to prevent lies from becoming routine, it is important to nip them in the bud at a young age. With the following 9 tips, you’ll learn how to make your children tell the truth and be more honest.

boy smiling at camera with his arms crossed

1. Don’t create embarrassing situations that force them to lie

Parents often know what happens behind the scenes in their children's lives, such as when they didn’t do homework. In such cases, the truth is known to parents, but they will try to get their children to say it by asking specific questions such as "did you do your homework?" - Such questions create confusion among children since they have not yet done their work, but at the same time don’t want to deal with the consequences, which makes them lie.

When you are in a situation where you know what is happening but want to "squeeze" the information out of your children, don’t put them in an embarrassing situation, as in most cases this will lead to the creation of lies. Instead, ask them questions that will guide them to action, such as "What do you plan to do about your homework?" - so that children don’t feel forced to lie, and are able to focus on carrying out a task that has not yet been completed instead of making up stories about it.

2. Don’t tell "white lies" near your children

Every person has a tendency to tell "white lies" sometimes to protect himself or other people in unpleasant situations. We as adults know how to distinguish between lies that are supposed to be good and lies that hurt people, but children can’t yet make this distinction. Consequently, when white lies are told around them, they think that it is okay to lie in any situation and will certainly apply this insight. It is important to avoid this situation by telling the truth next to your kids at all times. Of course, you have to tell them certain things in a way that suits their age, but when you have to tell someone a white lie, don’t do it in front of your children. The worst thing you can do is show them that lying is part of normal life and routine.

a girl telling another girl a secret

3. Set your expectations about telling the truth by making a clear rule

Children need clear boundaries to know what is okay and what is not to be done, therefore, it is important to set precise expectations about telling the truth. In order for your children to know that lies are absolutely forbidden, a rule has to be established that says that lying is absolutely forbidden and hang a sign in a visible place that says just that. This will help children understand that when it comes to lying, there are no gray areas and lies shouldn’t be told under any circumstances. This will instill in them the importance of sincerity in the ages in which they learn how to conduct themselves in the world, and will definitely serve them as adults later on.

4. Notice how you react to their behavior

Often children feel the need to lie because they fear their parent’s excessive reaction based on their experience of the past in which said parent may have gone a little overboard. In order for your children to feel no need to lie to you, pay attention to how you react when they behave badly or when you perceive them as lying. If you find that you have a tendency to shout at or scold them, you should change this behavior not only so that your children will not feel the need to lie, but also so that they will feel comfortable approaching you with different problems they might be experiencing.

man holding a paper infront of his face with an angry face drawn on it

5. Explain to them the implications of lying

In order for children to understand the meaning of sincerity, it is important not only to explain to them that they must tell the truth but to make it clear to them what might happen as a result of lies. To do this, have a conversation about trust between people and especially between them and you.

Explain to them that when they lie, trust between you may break and it will be difficult for you to know when they are telling the truth and when they are lying. Moreover, make it clear to them that people will not take their lying well as they get older and that dishonesty can cause them problems in life aside from relationships with people. It is important that they know that lies have consequences that are most immediate and negative, and therefore, it isn’t advisable to lie under any circumstances.

6. Don’t make your children feel bad when they make mistakes

We all make mistakes sometimes, and as adults, we know that these are learning opportunities for the future. It is important to instill this principle in children and make them understand that when they make a mistake, it is important that they admit it and don’t lie to cover it up.

Teach them that mistakes are natural and make it clear to them that when they do something wrong and without meaning to, it is an opportunity for them to learn in the future and improve in the future. Do it through verbal instruction in sentences such as: "This is an opportunity for you to learn how to behave in the future." If you could do it again, what would you change? - This way kids will feel that mistakes are not the end of the world and that there’s no need to lie about them, but rather grow from them and learn how not to repeat them.

boy covering his face with his hand

7. Give your children positive reinforcement when they tell the truth

Even as adults, we sometimes need positive reinforcement whenever we do something right, which helps us to persevere in a good way and also motivates us. This is even truer when it comes to children since they are still in stages of character formation and it is important to make them understand when they are doing well as well as when they aren’t. To apply this principle, give your children positive reinforcement when they tell the truth, and not necessarily in a material way, but by saying things like: "I'm glad you told me the truth ... I know it wasn’t easy, and I'm proud of you". Thanks to this little act, children will feel that honesty is always the best option, which will reduce their need to lie.


8. Give them a warning when you catch them in a lie

Just as positive reinforcement should be given when your children are doing well, it is important to make them understand that there are practical consequences for their lies. When you know that your children are lying to you, give them a warning about the consequences: "I'll give you one more chance to tell me what really happened, and if I find that you’re lying to me, it will have consequences." If your children continue to lie, give them a punishment that will make it clear to them that lies are not acceptable under any circumstances. Don’t allow them to play for a few hours or days with their favorite toy, prevent them from watching television or do anything else to make them realize that lying is unacceptable to you.

man waving his finger in anger

9. Identify the reasons behind the lies

As children get older, their inner world becomes more complex and they find themselves in situations where they feel they need to lie. When this happens, it is important that you don’t get angry right away, but you will find out the reasons behind the lies, which often stem from problems the child is experiencing. When you discover that your adolescent or young children are lying about important things, such as not doing school-related tasks or spreading lies on social networks, have a serious conversation about the things they are doing.
It is important that the conversation be in the most pleasant atmosphere possible in these situations so that your children will feel comfortable telling you what’s going on in their lives that’s causing them to lie. If the lies do come from things that are going on, try to find a solution to the problems together so that they don’t feel the need to lie. If they aren’t getting their homework done on time, find out why and think about a viable solution. In this way, you can maintain open communication channels between you and your children so that they feel that they can talk to you and not lie about the difficulties they are experiencing.
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