Kids lie for a variety of reasons, from making themselves look better to downright fantasy. But one of the main reasons that a child lies is to avoid a consequence. Unfortunately, routinely using fibs to avoid negative reactions can begin a lifelong disconnect between your child and the truth. By using consequences for your child's lies, she soon learns that honesty is the best policy if she wants to avoid punishment and consequence.
One of the worst consequences for a lying child is being caught in that lie. While you should never try and "set up" your child to catch her red-handed, warns FamilyEducation.com, a straightforward approach can be as upsetting as the consequences themselves. Sit your child down and let her know that you're aware of the lie. Ask her why she did it and talk about why telling the truth is so important to you. A sober conversation can set the tone for honesty in the future.
Natural consequences are the negative things that happen after your child tells a lie without you having to set them in motion. A child who lies about summer vacation, for instance, becomes unbelievable with her friends. If she constantly lies to you about her grades, you soon learn that you can't trust her and must set up a parent-teacher conference. Natural consequences might seem the least negative, but they're often the most devastating because your child has no one to blame but herself.
Logical consequences are those that you set in motion, but that make sense for the infraction -- a punishment-fitting-the-crime scenario. These allow you to construct instances where your child can clearly see how her lying has affected others. If she has lied to her teacher about losing an assignment, you require that she write a note or call her teacher with the truth. If she's lied about breaking an object, you require that she pay to replace it. Logical consequences allow your child to repair the damage done through her lies, a lesson that can stick with her all her life.
Here's where you can have free reign over how you react when your child tells a lie. While natural and logical consequences can affect his propensity to tell a fib in the future, you can also remove privileges to drive the issue home. Just keep in mind that avoiding specific punishments could be the reason your child is lying in the first place. Whether it's a grounding, loss of computer privileges, loss of a phone or early bedtime, DrPhil.com points out that the most important point is actually following through with the punishment.