Member question:

How do you address lying with kids? 


Rachel’s response:

Ohhh, lying is certainly a doozy. We worry when they lie, we feel disrespected when they lie, we wonder if we can ever trust them. We, rightly so, have so much Yuck related to their lying.

I will say that lying is also sign of Yuck for them. Lying is a protective mechanism — a way to avoid discomfort. When they lie they are attempting to protect themselves from a.) punishment, b.) judgement/disappointment from others, or c.) shame toward themselves. Or all 3.

So how do you handle it? First, coming out as an “enemy” (with the tone of “I KNOW you lied. Admit it. Now.”) will only put them into more Yuck and will make them lie more.

I’d actually focus more on what you want them to do in the future, even if you know they lied in the past. So if they said they cleaned their room but didn’t, you could say, “OK, can you just go make sure that you [the things you know they didn’t do].” If they get upset at that, let them travel the curve and bring it up again once they’ve released their Yuck.
Your job, as always, is to be firm (don’t change your limit/boundary) but also respectful (showing them that you are not against them, because as soon as they sense that you are, they will shut down and focus on protecting and defending… and likely lie more).

If you do want to bring up past events with them, make sure they feel safe so they are willing to be vulnerable enough to admit they lied. (Yes, it is vulnerable to admit you’ve lied. And humans will NOT be vulnerable if they don’t feel safe.) Say something like, “Hey, I know you did this, but I bet there was a reason for it. Do you want to talk about the reason so we can help you do something differently next time? I want to find solutions with you.” Be sure not to do too much talking though, as they can see too much talking as a threat. Your best tool is your energy, showing them that you won’t change your expectation but that you’re on their side.