What do you do when your kids start to lie?
No parent wants their child to lie, but nearly every child does it at some point and some do it a lot more than others. So what can you do to encourage honesty in your kids?
Dr. Nicholas Long, Director of the Pediatric Psychology Department at Arkansas Children's Hospital, says young children under the age of four are just beginning to explore the difference between reality and fantasy. Lying goes along with that discovery.
"I think one of the important things is to recognize that all children lie," said Dr. Long. "There are not many people, adults or children, who have never told a lie before. It's important for parents to understand that it is very common with young children and they need to use those opportunities to teach their children truthfulness. As their children get older - have consequences for lying.
Dr. Long suggests parents use stories such as the fable of the boy who cried wolf to show young children what happens when people lie. As they grow up, he says families should make honesty a topic of regular discussion.
"One of the most important things parents can do is to talk about truthfulness and how it is important that people trust you as you grow up.
Earning that trust is sometimes challenging, especially as kids mature. Once in middle school, kids begin to face more adult issues. They have more rules and lying can become more attractive.
A quick survey of some 8th graders from Pulaski Heights Middle School reveals a lot of parents are already following another suggestion from Dr. Long. When kids lie, he says moms and dads need to have separate punishments - one for the misbehavior and one for the cover-up.
"If I know it's going to affect me in a negative way if I lied, then of course, I'll tell the truth even though I know I may get in trouble. It's better than lying and possibly getting into a worse situation," said Daquandra Clayton.
"You may lie so your punishment won't be as bad," said Abby Kay Choate. "But in the end, it will be worse."
"If it's like family, eventually, they're going to find out, so it's easier to tell the truth," Jeffrey Mobsi said.
"I think of the consequences before I speak," said Anjoli Ramirez.
Dr. Long also says parents need to remember that their kids are constantly watching them. If they see you lying even about small things, your kids will think it is okay for them to lie as well.