1. The book Good and Angry, Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids has a whole chapter (Chapter 8) on lying. The entire book would be helpful for character development in your child. Chapter 8 focuses on building integrity. By putting your focus on the positive instead of just trying to remove the negative you can see significant progress.
2. The solution to lying often requires a deeper plan, one that you can create using the Motivate Your Child Action Plan. It helps you develop a multi-faceted, heart-based approach to change. In addition, you'll want to get the book that goes along with it called Motivate Your Child, a book that builds the conscience in practical ways.
3. If a child lies impulsively, work on self-discipline.
Sometimes children who are impulsive blurt out things without
thinking. Other times they start talking and don’t know
how to stop. This impulsivity component can lead to dishonesty
because of a lack of self-control. It’s not always malicious
lying, but it’s still not good and shouldn’t be excused
since the problem often gets worse. Even though children
may have poor impulse control, they must learn to tell
the truth. The route, though, may contain more self-discipline
training than some of the other suggestions.
4. Teach children about the benefit of the doubt. The
benefit of the doubt is a gift we freely give to people.
It’s the tendency to believe someone and it comes naturally
with relationships. But once someone is found to be dishonest,
he or she loses the benefit of the doubt, and it then needs
to be earned back by being “caught” doing the right thing.
Once a child has lied, everything becomes suspect. You
may even question something that is found to be true later.
A child may be hurt by this, but that hurt is the natural
consequence of mistrust which in turn comes from lying.
Being believed is a privilege earned when children are
responsible in telling the truth on a regular basis. Tell
your child that you would like to believe him but you can’t
until he earns that privilege back by being honest. The
road back to being trusted is a difficult one, but it is
possible. Teach your children that it’s much easier to
remain trustworthy then to try to earn trust back. If you’re
child has already lost the benefit of the doubt, clearly
define what honesty looks like and then check up on him
often. Your goal is to find your child trustworthy again.
5. Some situations won’t be clear. Children may lie to
avoid punishment. You find yourself in a predicament because
proof seems impossible yet you have a sense that this child
is not telling the truth. When possible, don’t choose that
situation as your battle. It’s too sticky. You will usually
have other clearer opportunities later. Children who have
a problem with lying, demonstrate it often. Choose the
clearer battles and use those situations to discipline
6. Confrontation should result in repentance. This may
seem unrealistic at first but keep it in mind as your goal.
Children who are confronted with the fact that they are
telling a lie should immediately confess and apologize.
A child who is defensive is relying on arguing and justifying
as manipulative techniques in order to avoid taking responsibility.
When a child is caught in a lie have that child confess.
You might ask the question, “What did you do wrong?” and
have the child say, “I lied.” Confession is the first step
toward change but is often quite a challenge.
7. Be proactive in teaching about honesty.
Tell stories from your life or read stories like The
Emperor’s New Clothes, The Boy who Cried Wolf, Pinocchio, and Ananias
and Sapphira from the Bible. There are several good books
at your local library on this subject that are written
for children and are well illustrated to capture their
8. Memorize Bible verses dealing with honesty. The Scriptures
have a way of appealing to a child’s conscience and changing
a child’s heart.
9. Honesty requires courage and humility. Dishonesty always
occurs under pressure. Pray with your child for strength
to do what’s right even under pressure.
10. Young children often confuse truth and fantasy so some extra teaching in this area will be helpful. Talk about reality and truth and how they are different from fantasy, wishes, possibility, pretend, and make believe. Require that children use cues to identify anything other than reality. Here are some ideas: “I think it happened this way,” “I think this is the answer,” “I’m not sure...” “Maybe...” (possibility) “I wish this were true,” “I’d like it if...” (wish) “I’d like to tell you a story...” “I can imagine what it would be like to...” (fantasy)
11. Look for underlying issues in a child’s life. Some
children who lie are lazy and just don’t have the character
necessary to work hard. The solution to lying may, in part,
require more work to develop that character. Other children
have a poor view of correction and react defensively whenever
challenged or corrected. Developing a plan for addressing
correction wisely may contribute to honesty as well.
12. Use the Bible verse Proverbs 30:32 to teach children to stop talking in the middle of a speaking mistake. When you sense a child is beginning to stray from the truth, stop them. “I want you to stop talking for a minute.” Sometimes children just get started with one lie and keep going. When parents try to argue with children about a lie, it often perpetuates more lies. Sometimes you just have to say, “Stop talking about that and choose something else to talk about.”
Dishonesty is a character weakness. God wants to grow
your child to be strong on the inside. That strength comes
from his power and grace. Spend time praying and talking
about the Lord with your child. Make that spiritual connection
more clear so that your child can sense the Holy Spirit’s
conviction on an ongoing basis.