When you suspect your child is lying, trying to force a confession will often make the situation worse. "Statements like 'Don't lie to me' send a message of disapproval and could close the lines of communication between you and your child," says Carolyn Saarni, Ph.D. Here are better ways to encourage honesty.
Your Child's Lie: I did my homework on the bus.
Wrong Response:I don't believe you. You couldn't have done it that quickly.
Right Response: Let's go over it together.
Your Child's Lie: I didn't break the window with my ball. It must have been the wind.
Wrong Response: That's a crazy story. I know you're lying, so just admit what you did.
Right Response: I think you're afraid I'll be angry, but I understand that accidents happen. It's important for you to be honest with me so we can find a way to fix it.
Your Child's Lie: I didn't get my report card. They must be giving them out late this year.
Wrong Response: I spoke to Sam's mother, and she said he got his.
Right Response: Let's call the school and make sure it didn't get lost or get sent home with someone else.
Your Child's Lie: My friend said I could have her favorite Barbie for keeps.
Wrong Response: There's no way she would give that to you. I want you to give the toy back tomorrow.
Right Response: That was so nice of her, but I think she was being too generous. Let's call her mom and discuss it.