Telling Lies

As I sit in the kitchen typing this blog I can hear the wailing of my six-year-old daughter.  She is in her room until Dad gets home.  Why?  She’s been telling lies.

She’s recently discovered that she can avoid trouble by telling a lie – as long as she doesn’t get caught.  I’m not sure how to impress upon her the importance of truth when sometimes the truth has obvious undesirable consequences.

Like today, she pushed a friend down resulting in a cut lip.  She told me he fell ‘all by himself.’  I suspected the truth was he had a little help hitting the pavement but since he wouldn’t confirm my theory I had no choice but to doctor his wound and let it go.

Later the truth came out.  Help had come in the form of two six-year-old hands pushing him down.  When confronted this time my daughter told the truth and now she sits in her room crying.

I’ve often told her that consequences are bigger if you lie.  I said, “Had you told the truth you would have had to apologize and have a time out and then you could have played again.”  Now, she waits for Daddy and me to discuss the consequence of both her actions and her lie.  The truth would have been simpler.  The truth would have been less painful.  Yet, the truth is not the route she has been taking lately.

How does a parent impress upon a six-year-old the importance of truth?  In some ways I think, “She’s only six.”  In others ways I think, “Six is plenty old enough to understand the value of honesty.”

To all the parents and grandparents that have gone before me and to the friends walking the same road with their kids, I humbly ask for your advice!

8 thoughts on “Telling Lies

  1. Bev says:

    Well Stacey you have asked a big question there. One that I am sure ALL parents have gone through at one time or another.
    The way I dealt with this was to say telling the truth is best because at some point and time I was going to find out and it will be much harder then. Lying brings two punishments instead of one.
    I would also make Kate tell her daddy what she did and what her punishment was for doing it. That helps to impress on her the importance of telling the truth as its never easy to admit what you’ve done wrong to your parents.

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  2. Ruth says:

    In our household we told our children that we expected the truth from them, it was not a choice. There were always consequences to an act, and often we would let the perpetrator decide what punishment would be fair, and the few times that a lie was told they knew to increase the severity of that punishment. Communicating all of this was key. They still prefer to tell the truth, not wanting to disappoint us, they have said, and they have felt that the guilt seems lifted off them and they can be free again if they tell the truth. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Us sinning, God punishing but forgiving, and we are free. My, our child-rearing years can seem so heavy with purpose some days. Thankfully it’s joyous too! Although I wonder when it will end 😉

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  3. Laura says:

    Stacey, what a coincidence! This week, I’m having issues with my son lying also. He has never really lied before , and usually tells me everything – even the things he starts off by saying “Mom, you’re going to be really upset about this, but …”. He’s even told me when he was struggling with “a swearing problem”.
    However, 2 days ago, while discussing spiritual matters, he told me that in addition to his ongoing “swearing problem” he now also has a “lying problem”.
    I wasn’t too concerned, as I know he is more critical of himself than he needs to be. But this morning, when I asked him if he scooped the litter box yesterday, he lied and told me he did. When I asked why the scoopings weren’t in the garbage can, he told me he took them to the dumpster before I came home from work.
    Like your situation, I can’t really prove he’s lying unless he was to admit it. I was shocked that he lied to me, and didn’t know what to do, since he wasn’t going to admit it, and we both had to leave for school/work. So, I just told him that I hoped he wasn’t lying and then I let it go. And now, like you, I’m faced for the first time with the “what to do when your kid lies” problem. I realize that it’s a little different, dealing with a 6 year old rather than a 10 year old, and the solutions may differ based on the age of the child. So, sorry, I have no answers yet. But thought I’d share my experience anyway, to let you know you’re not alone in dealing with the shock and disbelief that your precious child made a very wrong choice.
    I’ll be praying for both our kids tonight, and for God to give us wisdom to be good parents to them.

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  4. staceyweeks says:

    Thanks everyone! Today was a better day and I think she is getting it. Each day brings its own challenges and triumphs. If anyone else wants to weigh in regarding what works for them I’d still love to hear from you.

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  5. Dana Daykin says:

    When I was working as a nanny, I found it very difficult to deal with this topic because I was not allowed to teach from a biblical perspective. You have a profound advantage in this area. I have always found that the topic of honesty corelates with the topic of trust and that stories will often connect better with kids than reasons and explanations alone. Combining biblical truth, personal experience and objective perspective that stories can provide. It is difficult, but essential to instill a sense of accountability to God, as well as to you. That God has set out rules for us so that we know what is the best way to live – as we were created to live. I know it seems pretty thick for a six-year-old, but she doesn’t have to fully comprehend it now in order for you to be instilling a biblical worldview and understanding of God that will undergird her life. I know that you have the creativity to find ways to communicate these things to her and other children as well. There are also many resources in children’s literature that may be of help. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but if I find some, I’ll let you know.
    I hope that at least some of this is helpful to you in the midst of a very difficult problem that so many parents face.
    I also hope that other than that you are all doing well.

    Dana

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  6. Marsha says:

    My parents did a good job of impressing upon us the importance of truth as kids, and though I cared deeply about right and wrong I used to lie through my teeth to keep myself out of trouble because I was a severe people pleaser and very insecure. I would get into troublesome situations that made me uncomfortable but go along with things anyway and then find myself lying to cover up (my parents had no clue of the extent of my problems until I grew up and got some clarity as to what was going on and why). I learned how to spin a very convincing story and could cover up almost anything because I was too insecure to be able to fess up and disappoint my parents (much moreso than the average kid I am sure). I’m sure nome of the commenters are likely to be in this sort of situation, I just felt like sharing that sometimes a childs emotional needs can trump their conscience. This isn’t a cop out, but my issues with lying were not a problem of conscience (in fact, I hated every minute of it and didn’t understand my behavior) but a symptom of my emotional issues. The fact that no one had a clue of my emotional state until 18 years later is what freaks me out about parenting! But then, I managed to work it out in the end 🙂 Sorry if that was a downer of a story 🙂

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  7. Terry says:

    I was once at a parenting seminar at church that the speaker said. “We must be sure we are not setting them up to lie. If there is no way out, children will try to find the easy way out.” They don’t have the maturity some days.

    e.g. you cannot go out if you don’t have your room cleaned. Friend is coming soon and room is NOT done. Mom says ” is your room clean ?” What can child do ? Child tends to lie to mom to go out with s friend.. as Mom will be mad but will always be there. Friend may never like her again ( in her mind )

    It was a big surprise to me but then I had to watch what I set up my kids for.

    This may not be pertinent in today’s event.. but it is worth a thought.

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