9 Parenting Strategies that Encourage Truth Telling

Are you concerned about your child telling the truth?  Do you feel like he is deceitful more than honest?

It can be baffling to know what to do when your child tells "tall tales" or embellishes stories. Try these strategies to encourage your kids to level with you.

9 Parenting Strategies that Encourage Truth Telling

1. Set a good example.

The most important thing you can do is to demonstrate the importance of honesty in your own daily activities. Pay the full ticket price or meal price for kids who look small for their age. Resist making excuses when you get a parking ticket. Take responsibility.

2. Get to the root of the problem. 

Kids may lie for many reasons. Often, they’re trying to avoid being punished. It may be that they are afraid of disappointing you. Or they may even be trying to conceal unpleasant facts from themselves! (Imagine that!) When you know what your child is feeling, you’re better positioned to respond appropriately.

3. Reward the truth.

Let your kids know that honesty pays. Even if they accidentally break a neighbor’s window when they’re playing softball, praise them for coming clean about it.

4. Be reasonable.

Kids are more likely to cover things up if they’re unsure what will happen to them or if they fear punishment. Try to be consistent with how you provide guidance and discipline. You set the rules for your own household, but it may be helpful to survey what other parents do in the same circumstances.  If you feel at a loss for the best way to parent, read parenting book.  Bloom: 50 Things to Say, Think and Do with Anxious, Angry and Over-the-Top Kids (Kenney and Young, May 2015) provides the most effective ways I know to provide fairness and balance when guiding and disciplining children.

5. Values Matter.

Begin early with discussing values with your kids. Talk about the benefits of being honest and treating people well. Use examples from everyday life, popular television shows or the daily news to illustrate your points.

6. Keep calm.

This is one of the single-most important tips I could ever share with parents.  Your emotions set the tone for the entire household.  As adults, we must keep our own emotions in check if we hope to ever teach our children to do the same. Your kids can pay much better attention to an adult role-model who is speaking at a normal decible. While it can be distressing to find out your child deceived you, focus on resolving the conflict.

7. Make it easy.

Make it as easy as possible for your kids to be honest. If you already know they told a fib, ask them how you can work together to improve the situation instead of putting them on the spot to elicit a confession.

8. Benefit of the doubt.

Some studies claim that people lie three times a day or more. Still, that means we’re telling the truth most of the time. Give your kids the benefit of the doubt to preserve trust and harmony.

9. Seek professional help.

If you’re concerned that your child shows destructive patterns of deception, consider professional counseling or therapy to learn more effective ways to interact.  This is best done as soon as you see emerging patterns, rather than waiting for things to escalate.  (In this case, we are talking about ongoing lying, even about things that are of little consequence.  Such would be the case with kids over the age of 5 or 6.)

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