A few nights ago, the hubby told me that a friend of his was telling him how exasperated she was because her young son has started lying to her. She was incredulous; where did he learn to lie at such a young age? (I think he is 3 or 4 years old) She said she and her husband never told him lies, so how did he pick up this bad habit?
My first response was that kids don’t need to be taught how to do wrong. The sinful nature is within each and every one of us and we would somehow know how to do wrong things even without being taught.
However, after thinking about it more, I turned to my hubby and said, “Actually it is not true that parents do not teach their kids how to lie.”
Think about it. How many times have your parents told you a “white lie” when you were growing up?
“If you’re naughty again, the policeman will come here and catch you.”
“If you are good, I will buy you all the toys you want.”
These lies may not be big, bad lies. But they are lies nevertheless.
And I do not blame parents (or even grandparents). Because sometimes it’s easier to throw out these white lies to get the kid to behave, rather than spend a long time explaining and disciplining.
But here’s the thing:
Your children see what you do more than they hear what you say, and they follow your actions more than obey your words.
So if you tell them “do not lie”, but they see you doing it all the time to them, guess what they would do?
They can’t differentiate a white lie and a bad lie. A lie is a lie. If you said you will get them that toy but you didn’t, it’s a lie. If you said you will let them watch the iPad if they finish their dinner but you didn’t, it’s a lie.
And once you have made that first lie, it breaks their trust in you. They will now know that your word is not your bond. They will have that feeling of “Yea whatevs, that’s what my dad or my mom said, but they always say that. Pfft.”
That is why, as far as I am able, I am determined not to bluff Amy in any way. Every reward that I dangle in front of her, or any threat that I make, I have to follow through. Which is why I do not threaten lightly, and I do not offer a reward easily.
If I tell her, “If you throw down the toy again, you cannot play with it today”, then I have to make sure I follow through if she throws it down again.
If I promise her that she “can watch iPad if you let mummy shower you now”, then I have to honour my word, even if she forgets about it after shower.
If you don’t think you can carry out a particular threat, then do not even say it! Resist all temptation and swallow it back down. For example, “If you are naughty, I will burn all your toys!”
Number one, I don’t think you would actually burn all the toys, which would then make your statement a lie, and then cause your kid to undermine you.
Number two, if you do burn all the toys, I think it’s too harsh an action and your kid would probably think you are mad. And think of all the money you just burned.
Finally, never assume that your kid doesn’t understand what you are saying anyway and therefore you don’t really have to follow through. Your kid is smarter than you think, and from as young as they are, they are already learning values and principles from you.