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How to respond when your child lies

The most important thing to consider when your child lies is the reason behind the lie. Different reasons require different responses. Here are some examples.

1. The ‘I saw an alien today’ lie

This kind of lie is all part of growing a healthy imagination and creative brain so there’s no need to worry about them, particularly in children under four. Instead, join in: ‘wow, that’s amazing. What colour was the alien?’

2. The ‘I haven’t been on the iPad today’ lie

Choose to look beyond the lie to the emotion behind it with this kind of lie, and deal with that instead. ‘I can see that you want to watch more Octonauts. It’s okay to be sad about that. We’re all done with the iPad today. Would you like to go to the park or do some painting now?’

3. The ‘I’m the best in my class at painting’ lie

With this kind of lie, it’s important to reassure your child that you love them no matter if it’s true or not: ‘You’re so good at reading. And you know what? I love you even if you’re not.’ If you instead tell them off for lying, they might feel the need to lie again as they still haven’t impressed you in the way they’d hoped to.

4. The ‘I didn’t hit them’ lie

In all likelihood, if your child is lying about bad behaviour, they’re probably already feeling like they’re a bad child. So avoid labelling them as a liar, but be firm that while their feelings are acceptable, lying is not.