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Let's have a chat about why children tell lies (or "fibs").
As a children’s therapist and coach, parents/carers frequently tell me that their child has been “fibbing” or telling lies, and they don’t know why, or what to do about it. This is a tough one for many families, so I wanted to share some resources and tips for talking to your children about lying.
The first thing to remember is that most children learn how to tell “white lies” or “fibs” as young as 2/3 years old – so, you aren’t doing anything wrong! They might learn how to “bend the truth” in order to escape being told off, or learn to manipulate fellow pre-school friends in order to play with the toy they wish to play with. The truth is, the way you deal with the “fib” is far more important than how they learned to do it.
In society, most of adults tell ‘innocent’ lies to those around them too. For example, have you ever eaten a meal at a restaurant that wasn’t up to scratch, but lied to waiting staff when they ask how your meal was? How about telling your boss you have almost finished a project that is due at 5pm, when you have barely started it? Sometimes, it may feel like lying is necessary, which children may pick up on…
In this Psychology Today article, you will find some great conversation topics for children who have started to tell lies, or for those whose lies have grown into something bigger.
I also thought it might be helpful to explore some of the reasons why children may tell lies or “fibs” in the first place. In my experience, these are some key reasons:
- Low confidence – Children may exaggerate their skills or experience in something to “fit in” or to feel better about themselves. This is, of course, about the opinions of those around them more than whether what they’re saying is true or not.
- Low self-worth – Children may tell friends they have more toys, electronics or friends than what they actually have. This is sometimes because they don’t feel “worthy” as they are.
- Low self-esteem – Children sometimes lie to others in order to make people like or respect them to compensate for not liking themselves. This could be by saying they like to dance, when they don’t, or that they love a TV show that they actually find really boring.
As you can probably see, these 3 reasons can intertwine.
If you’d like some useful tips for building confidence, self-esteem and self-worth in your children, please feel free to contact me here.
I hope this blog helped you in some way.
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Abby and the HappiMe Team x