A mom writes “Help—my 6-year-old daughter is a habitual liar—what can I do?” Show Notes

Tuesday, July 01, 2014 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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Dear Dr. Bill,

Ever since my second daughter could walk and talk, she has been sneaky and a little deceitful.  She’s now almost 6-years-old and is very smart and sweet, but her tendency to lie continues to baffle me.  I’ve tried reading children’s books to her about telling the truth, and reviewing Bible verses that back up what I’ve been teaching her — but the problem persists.  What should I do?

--Nicole

Dear Nicole,

Young children tend to respond more effectively to actions, rather than words.  Although explaining the importance of truth and sharing Bible verses with your daughter are important, you’ll find that firm, decisive actions are the best teacher.

My guess is she has found that lying works for her—at least some of the time.  She’s learned that telling a fib helps her to avoid or at least delay punishment.  So you need to make the consequences for lying more severe than for other types of misbehavior.  

For example, if she deliberately breaks one of her sister’s toys, she will receive a consequence, but if she LIES about it, her punishment will be considerably more painful.  

Clearly explain this to her, so she knows in advance that she’s much better off telling the truth and admitting to an infraction, even if she does experience a negative consequence for her misbehavior.

In addition to consistent, powerful consequences for lying, you should also begin praising her when she tells the truth.  

Many parents find it helpful to use a sticker chart or token system to reinforce positive behavior and discourage negative behavior.  

You can learn how to set up such a system in Dr. James Dobson’s book “The New Dare to Discipline.”

Thanks for writing Nicole!  I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.
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