Children spin tall tales and fantastic stories all the time. They do so with their friends, siblings, relatives, and yes, even their parents. For a child, the truth may often be a flexible thing not subject to the cold, hard facts of this harsh reality in which we live. It is an innocent predisposition that many toddlers and kindergarteners have. Seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses and all that. But as much as our kids may think they're expert at telling lies, a good parent will always know when their kids are not being forthcoming. If this sounds familiar, you may be wondering what has led your kids to become habitual liars, and what you can do to address the issue. Well, here are some facts you should know. Why Some Children Tell Lies They Have an Overactive Imagination If your child has started telling you that they're seeing unicorns or mermaids, they're probably not. Things like an imaginary friend are a sort of 'living lie', where the stories take on a life of their own. This is probably one of the more innocent lies your child will tell you. But if you find that your child is too serious about their fantasies and imaginary friends, you may need to take it more seriously. Children who engage in maladaptive daydreaming, may be doing so as a response to something stressful or frightening in their environment. If you let it go on, it may result in difficulty functioning in daily life and even lead to them developing unhealthy obsessions and delusions. They Are Testing Boundaries Sometimes kids may lie for absolutely no reason at all other than to see if they can get away with it. They may make up lies about their friends, their teachers, their school. Lies that their parents have absolutely no way of verifying. Innocent lies that may not harm anyone much. But there may also be times when they may push this limit such as spinning lies to get their siblings into trouble, for instance. Children who lie to manipulate people and situations may sound like a nightmare, but this may point to a certain level of above average intelligence. So, if you find your child doing this, help them funnel all that smartness to something more productive; like their academics. They Are Afraid of Consequence Lies are often also used as a defence mechanism. We may often tell them out of fear of repercussion, judgement or some other negative outcome, even as adults. Children do so for the same reason. They may have broken your favourite vase on accident or forgot to do their homework, or drawn on the wall with a permanent marker. Honest mistakes that typically don't deserve an overreaction from their parents. To avoid getting reprimanded, some children may opt to lie to get out of trouble; especially if they have strict, overbearing parents. They Don't Want You to Worry At the other end of the spectrum is when kids lie to protect their parents, not themselves. For example, your child could be bullied or teased at school. They may have come home with a bruise, or wet\/stained clothes, missing belongings, etc. In these cases, to avoid stressing out their parents, they may lie about what happened. Often even taking the blame for their bullies' cruelty in order to stop their parents from learning the truth. Kids may often do this when there's something wrong at home. Like if you often fight or have disagreements with your spouse over money, chores etc. Or even if you're stressed from work. So, to avoid more potential arguments or finger-pointing, they may opt to hide their personal troubles by lying. Or lying by omission. How to Raise an Honest Child Be Less Strict "Strict parents raise the best liars". It's a well-known proverb at this point, because it's more or less true. When parents are too punitive or harsh, especially about the little things, their kids will often start keeping things from them. And while keeping secrets isn't technically lying, people usually end up lying anyway to protect their secrets. So, you may need to ease up on excessive time-outs or overreactions. Allow some time to calm down before you deal with minor misdemeanours. If you want your kids to be forthcoming, you need to ensure your home is a safe haven where your kids can tell you anything, especially when they make a mistake. So instead of being an authoritarian parent, try being an authoritative one. Be Less Judgmental You may not necessarily be judgemental of your children. But you may have let slip a nasty comment or two about a close acquaintance or relative and about how you disprove of their lifestyle choices. You have to accept the fact that your child will eventually develop their own sense of individuality. They will want to experiment with different hobbies and revolutionise. If they sense that you're not open-minded by how you treat others, they may choose to keep all those things a secret from you in fear of disapproval. They may lie about meeting their friends, going to concerts, or buying outfits. Because they believe you will probably be unkind to them about their interests. Be Truthful Kids model after their parents. This is inevitable. So, if you're known to lie on occasion, even if it's to protect someone's feelings, your child will take that as an invitation to do the same. Even telling 'white lies' or harmless lies, which some of us may tend to do in our adult lives, can send the wrong message to children. If anything, you're actually giving them the 101 on how to lie to people. So, if you have to be deceptive to people, try not to do so in front of your kids. You also should avoid lying to your kids. If you promise them ice-cream after lunch, or promise to take them to the zoo the next weekend, don't go back on your word. If you think you dislike children who lie, imagine how children feel about adults who do it them. The Truth Will Set You Free It can be hard to get kids to 'fess up when they lie, even when you recognise their 'tells'. Those subtle changes in body language that indicate that they haven't exactly been forthright about what they've done. Children who lie often and too much may grow up to be compulsive or pathological liars, which can negatively impact their adult lives. Your children may not be entirely truthful throughout their entire lives. However, you can still help them experience a childhood with fewer deceptions. All you need to do is be a bit more honest with them; and hopefully, they will able to do the same. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!