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Why Kids Lie And How To Stop It

Hi! I'm Nicholeen and I'm actually a recovered liar. So, that's fun. We're going to talk about that story and we're going to talk about why kids lie and how to stop it. When I was little I started lying. I don't exactly remember what I started lying about it first. That first lie, impossible to remember. 

Especially when you've told as many lies as I told you when I was young. I started when I was about six years old and it was probably some lie that got my attention in some way. I was grandiose perhaps trying to sing cool or like I was a know-it-all of some sort. 

This is a really common reason why people choose to lie to seek attention. Another reason that people choose to lie is to solve their problems. So, problem-solving is hard to do. And people don't necessarily possess the skills for how to solve all of their problems. And so, their problem-solving go-to becomes "I'm just going to deflect this and tell something that isn't quite true." Or "I am going to act like it wasn't really my fault that I didn't really do it." They just deny it. And I did all of the above lyings. 

I got so good at lying. And we need to be careful about the term good liar because there is really no such thing as a good liar. The word good actually comes from the Latin root God. It actually means God-like. So, I definitely can't put those 2 together in my mind. 

But I became such an accomplished or seasoned liar (maybe we should say) that I was even lying to myself. I was fooling myself all the time. In fact, we would have these little spiritual lessons as a family every week and I kept telling stories about lying and honesty and how honesty was so important. And I always did this when it was my turn to tell the little spiritual lesson. 

Because I reasoned in my mind "Maybe if I tell this lesson again, I'll remember. I'll not turn into the lying monster like the little boy in the story did." Yeah, it didn't work. So, finally, one day when I was 14 years old, that's right. 8 years of lying. One day when I was 14 years old, a friend of mine confronted me about my lying. She said, "You know, Nicholeen, we all know you're a liar and we don't believe anything you say. You should choose to tell the truth." 

Whoa! That hit me like a ton of bricks. None of my friends believed me when I was 14 years old? They knew I was a liar? What was I going to do? I thought and thought about how to solve this problem. I sat in my room for hours pondering, "What can I do not to lie anymore?" And I decided the best thing I could do would be to never talk again. 

As if that's going to happen. I'm an extroverted person. I like talking. It's probably one of my best ways of communicating with others. So, I reasoned to myself that I did know that what I was doing when I was talking started with a craving to talk. So, before I lied, I had decided to talk. Before I talked, I had to get the idea I want to say something. 

So, I told myself, "If I can feel that craving to want to talk, to want to seek attention or say something then I could tell myself stop." I could take a step back and I could ask myself, "Is this the truth?" And if it was the truth, then I could take a step forward and say it with confidence. But if it was not the truth, then I needed to turn and walk away and leave the situation. 

Well, that's what I decided to do. And I kept track of my progress in a little journal that was very secret, that nobody knew about. Because even though I was trying to conquer being a liar, for some reason I didn't want my parents to know that I was a liar yet. I wanted to conquer it all on my own that actually just made it harder. 

So, what I'd like to talk about in this video is get into a little bit more about why people lie and then what can we do to stop lying. Here's the deal: Hopefully you've learned from my story, you can't stop there lying. Only they can stop their lying. But there are key things that you can do as a parent to create an environment where you can help them be motivated to stop lying. 

There are many different time periods in a person's life where you might find them lying. But the most common time that I've noticed is when children are between the ages of about 7 and 9. For some reason during this time period, children experiment with lying. This doesn't mean they're going to be a chronic liar. If you catch it all the time, then they won't be. So, don't just say they're telling stories or make it sound like something it's not. 

They need to know what a lie is and they need to know how it needs to be fixed. And we'll talk about that in just a minute. But they are the most likely to lie. Then if it's not solved, a child like me becomes the next product. The person who habitually lies tells they can't even stop and it just becomes chronic. Well, that's how I was. 

Now, some other people, don't lie, they want to be honest. But when push comes to shove, when a situation gets intense enough or stressful enough that they don't know how to handle it, they don't have the skills they need, then they say something that's not true. And even adults will do this. Another reason that I've seen other people lie is to try to get an advantage because they're competitive. 

Competitive to the point that they have to win or they have to be right even if it means telling a lie. That doesn't make any sense to me. Because if you really want to be right or you want to win, you'd think you want to know you really did it. But when you lie, you didn't really do it. So, that's another reason that people end up lying. And in fact, that one's quite common especially among adults. 

So, how do we help our children stop their lying? Well, we need to teach them skills. I taught myself a skill when I was 14 years old for how to stop lying. I taught myself to recognize I wanted to talk, to stop myself, and then to ask myself a question and then to only tell the truth or walk away. Those were my only 2 options. And then to report to myself in my journal. 

That's a skill set that you can use. You can also teach children a skill that I taught all of my foster children and all of my children. In fact, it's a life skill everybody should know. This skill is called accepting a no answer. So, when you should not tell a lie, what that means is there's a boundary line you should not cross. You know telling a lie is wrong so it's a no. 

So, how do you accept a no answer? You look at the person or the situation, you keep a calm face, voice, and body then you say okay or you disagree appropriately. And then you drop the subject. So, If I get this thought like I want to tell a lie, then I look at the situation and I think, "I want to tell a lie. No, I can't do that." So, then because the answer is a no, that there's a line I shouldn't cross there. 

Then I say, "Okay. I won't cross that line." I keep calm about it. Then I don't think about it anymore. In fact, that's one of the key things you can do. If you're struggling with lying or if you have a child that's struggling with lying, they've got to learn how to drop the subject. Super important. 

The more and more you think about the lie in your head, the more likely it is that you're going to say the lie even if you don't want to. So, learning how to drop the subject and let it go is key. When I did foster care for troubled teens, I actually on purpose looked at the files of the children and tried to find files that said, "Honesty issues." If it said honesty issues on it, I knew I could help them. 

Because I had conquered it within myself. So, how did I help them? When I first recognized the honesty problem, I took them aside in what I call a parent counseling session. In this parent counseling session, I told them what I had noticed and some situations where I'd seen it occur, and then I said to them, "We need to conquer this problem. Because I know that you can conquer this problem. 

What type of negative consequence do you think would be motivating for you to stop or control the impulse to lie?" And they would think about it. And then they would come up with a negative consequence that would matter to them. 

Oftentimes, we would also come up with a positive consequence that would make it so that they could be motivated to make a change. If they had something they were working toward, that was wonderful as well. One time, one of my children was pulled aside because he was 8 years old. And he was struggling with lying. And I asked him what he thought would help him control the impulse to lie. And he said, "Mom, if I had to earn 30 minutes of work every time I told the lie, then I would not lie anymore." And I said, "Okay, I can help you with that. 

We will have that be the rule." So, he earned 30 minutes of work a couple of times. And after that, the honesty issues just disappeared. That's not to say he never told a lie or did anything dishonest again. He occasionally did. And then he got to do 30 minutes of work as a reminder that this was something we had decided in his youth. But for the most part, that did not turn into a habit. And well it didn't turn into a habit. 

For the most part, he was cured of that inclination to tell some lies. And he took ownership of that himself. He self-governed himself. So, that's a key thing. If you want your children to stop lying, you can't do it for them. You can only help them be inspired to want to tell the truth. One thing that you should do is make sure to remind them what other people know about the statements they say. 

I never knew that my friends all knew I was a liar. I am so grateful to my friend that she took the time to tell me, "We all know you're a liar and we don't believe a thing you say." Now, when you're going to tell your child, you should probably say, "Just so you know, just because somebody doesn't respond or call you out on a lie, doesn't mean they don't know you're lying." 

A lot of people just go, "Oh, that was a lie." And they keep that in their head. And then they just don't trust what you say a lot of the time or they think less of you. That's just the way it goes when a person can't trust another person. So, remember that honest communication is going to help you have a better friendship. Maybe let them watch this video so they can hear my story.

I really did not have any friends and I didn't even know it. So, be honest with them, let them know how other people process it. Catch it every single time. Make plans with them. Help them decide their own positive and negative consequences. And then follow through. Follow through the consistency is so important. Lying actually can be conquered. 

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