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Raggedy_Ann's avatar

What do you do when your kids lie to you?

Asked by Raggedy_Ann (450 points ) November 25th, 2008

Last night I went to open our front door only to find that the handle had been broken by our oldest son. He claims it happened a while ago and forgot to tell us. We have told him and his little brother that if they break something or if something happens to tell us right away. Instead they “forget” about it and then when my hubby or I find out they get in to trouble. Help!

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18 Answers

applegate's avatar

Depending on how old they are, do your best
to explain that lies build on lies, and eventually
get “found out”. People may be dumb, but they’re
not stupid.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

We tried to explain this but to no avail. Thanks for the idea though.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

This was my biggest challenge while raising my four kids. No one would own up to anything, and it was impossible to figure out who was lying. At least your son didn’t try to blame the other son. You’re doing better than I did!

rossi_bear's avatar

first sorry that they lied to you. and what i do is tell him that he is grounded from friends and the phone. for a week. (usually before the week is up he tells the truth and we talk about it and 9–10times he is lfted off groundation. depending how bad the lie is. but my son usually don’t have it in him to lie. we have a strong bond and he know that at anytime we are there for him. so he really has only lied about 3 times since his teen years. try taking away his favorite thing for a week and see if that does any good. he should confess with in the weeks time.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

@skaggfacemutt, your right at least he didn’t try to blame the other son. Most times that’s what happens.

@rossi_bear, we’ve tried grounding, taking away things, etc but it continues.

rossi_bear's avatar

try sending him to the corner on his knees for awhile and see if that helps. don’t let him look at anything but the corner of that wall. or you can make him write down 100 times about what he did and he is sorry for lying, and he will not lie again.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

Sorry Rossi, tried these too. Please don’t get me wrong, for the most part our kids are really good kids. It’s just that you would think after awhile they would learn that it’s worse to hide something than to come to us and admit the did something wrong.

skfinkel's avatar

Perhaps the problem is rooted in what happens to them if they break something, or do something they weren’t supposed to do. If your son had told you right away about the broken handle, what would have happened? If you would have punished him, then you might be setting up a situation where lying at least delays his punishment. If you find out what happened, and work together to fix it, with no punishment, maybe he won’t be worried about telling you the truth about other problems in the future.

tonedef's avatar

Don’t Shoot the Dog is a really good and easy-to-read book about behavior modification. It explains how punishment works (or backfires), and why. It also offers techniques (empirically validated!) that are proven to effectively change behaviors. I’d highly recommend it to anyone raising either children or pets.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

@skfinkel, you bring up a very valid point. We have tried to explain to them that if they own up to their actions. And depending on the severity of the action at the time, yes, perhaps they would get punished but perhaps not as severely as if they wait and tell us at a later time.

psharma's avatar

Try to understand what’s driving the lie and have a dialogue about it. I also read in a parenting book that young kids can’t really distinguish between a ‘lie’ and wishful thinking.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

In order to ground a kids, or punish them until they tell the truth, you have to first know that they are lying. And how do you know that for sure?

asmonet's avatar

I have no children but as a child and then as a teen when knew punishment would occur for breaking something I hid it as well as I could for as long as possible. Sfinkel is spot on. I spoke to my mom about it and over some time the punishment began to only happen when I did lie. Kids break stuff all the time, stop punishing them for having an accident, it’s not something they planned maliciously. Punish them for their behaviors regarding the accident. Thank them for behaving like an adult and taking responsibility and for holding themselves accountable. It’s a very different life lesson to learn to take the consequences of your actions with honor. I always interpreted being punished for mistakes as being a failure. You might see it as a cause and effect relationship but your sons may have an entirely different view.

Because he doesn’t lie about it being someone else’s fault it sounds like he already understands his actions and will be open to being honest if he isn’t punished for it.

Now, making him do some extra chores or pay for repairs seems fair. But grounding never once worked on me. And I used to laugh hysterically during time outs because it seemed funny that it would be a deterrent to bad behavior to sit somewhere for a few minutes. Even when I was three. I drove my mom crazy until she figured out explaining what I did and the effect it had on everyone.

Snoopy's avatar

@asmonet I think you make a great point. I have found this as well w/ my two toddlers. They are more willing to be open w/ me once they learned I wouldn’t completely freak out about stuff. I hope it lasts. :)

We try and save the extreme sterness for when there is a potential for injury (hitting, precariously balancing somewhere they shouldn’t, etc.)

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Asmonet, I so agree that punishment isn’t founded in the case of an accident. If my parents would have not punished me for things I didn’t mean to do, I probably wouldn’t have been as motivated to lie. Of course, if the damage happens because of inappropriate behavior (slamming the door, playing football in the living room) then the behavior can be addressed. It sounds so good on paper, harder to implement in real life.

flameboi's avatar

I was like 6, and I broke something and I lied… My mom told me “lies can take to awful places and terrible situations, lies hurt people and eventually, you will have to pay for the bad things your lies caused, do you want that in your life?” Well, I don’t lie ever since. Set an example of what happens if you lie…

Knotmyday's avatar

I tell them that they have the devil’s curly hair.

Okeediddleedokeedoh, neighbor!

augustlan's avatar

Definitely don’t punish for accidental breakage. If they were being stupid or something, making them pay for the damage or ‘work it off’ is ok. Lying itself should be punished though, if your child is old enough to understand it. When one of my kids has done something wrong (and subject to grounding or what have you) and they have lied about it, they receive one punishment for the behavior and an extra one for the lie.

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