Secrets are shared! Episode 6 of “One Day You’ll Thank Me” is a conversation with my teen host Anna and myself about dishonesty, where we talked specifically about kids and lying.
In my practice, I find that lying is a huge stress point for parents. These parents feel like their child is lying all the time and they are feeling like they are failing as parents. Many see it as a huge character flaw and are worried that this type of behavior is a sign their kid is going to grow up to be some kind of criminal.
I wanted to talk about this topic to normalize the behavior and understand why some kids lie, so as parents, we can know how to address it in a healthy and appropriate way.
I asked Anna to take a guess as to why kids lie, she feels that it is to get out of trouble or avoid getting in trouble.(I tried to convince her to share with the listeners and myself any lies that she had told, be given full immunity from punishment, however she refused, saying that she has never told “huge lies”!)
Anna is right on! I agree with her thoughts on why kids lie. Here are a list of reasons and some examples:
To avoid getting into trouble - the #1 reasons kids lie
To avoid an unpleasant situation - I confessed that when I didn’t want to go somewhere with my kids, like McDonalds, I would tell them it was closed (they were closed quite often!!)
To avoid shame or embarrassment -I shared that a tub of frosting was found in my drawer as a child and myself, as well as my siblings, all proclaimed it wasn’t us that did it (I am still waiting for the confession from my brother, lol!)
To protect privacy and keep a secret - for example, not sharing that they have a crush on someone
To try and control what people's opinions are of them - a good example of this, a client of mine showed classmates a picture of a mansion and said that it was his father’s house to try and impress everyone
To protect their safety - we shared an example of being alone somewhere and pretending that we have a boyfriend there with us, so strangers did not think that we were alone
I feel that lying is a complex form of communication that is nuanced. I know some of the parents that I work with tell their kids that “lying is always wrong” which sends a mixed message. Lying can be functional. I know that I do not want my kids to tell their grandparent the truth that they hate the gift they bought for them because it is hurtful and can impact the relationship.
Parents have to set the tone as to what the family culture is when it comes to telling small lies.
I feel that parents tend to forget that our kids see us tell these small lies all the time. Having conversations, that being honest and living a life in integrity is important, but sometimes we all may tell a white lie, with good, healthy intentions.
Often a lie is not meant to be deceiving or some form of manipulation…. so if you as the parent, can look at the situation through kid eyes and realize it was not as sinister as you interpreted, you can better handle the situation. Help kids be truthful from the start. Don't "set a trap" for them to lie and then be angry when they do. Avoid triggering defensiveness and be direct about what you know.
And parents, you may have a different version of the truth than your child, you both can be right.
Have a discussion with them about what they said and how it affected you and possibly others. Then next time you can have better communication by giving them specific words that they can use to avoid a lot of misunderstanding.
To hear this podcast in full go to: The Truth About Lying
This episode is sponsored by Moe's Southwest Grill. Make family dinner fun with Moe's Southwest Grill. Order a family taco kit for $34.99.
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To learn more about Dr. Tara Egan, visit HERE.
To learn more about Dr. Tara Egan's therapy practice based in Charlotte, NC, visit HERE.
"One Day You'll Thank Me" is edited by Laura Bauder from PodcastHers.