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Nipping Dishonesty in the Bud

How To Discourage Lying and Encourage Honesty

When kids lie, it's usually because they're afraid to tell the truth. In other words, yes he did take the last five cookies -- he just doesn't want to get in trouble for doing it. That kind of lying, experts say, is no big deal. Talk to your child about the difference between a lie and the truth, and explain why truthfulness is important. If he just tells the occasional fib, it's really nothing to get too concerned about, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology (AACAP).

Other kinds of lying, though, may suggest that he has underlying issues that need to be dealt with. Kids who tell elaborate storytelling lies, such as tall tales, may be making a bid for attention. And some fall into a pattern of repetitive lying, usually because it's an easy way to get out from under adult demands. ("Yes, I did my homework.") This can turn into a bad habit, so it needs to be caught and nipped in the bud before it does.

Still, other kids start lying to cover up more serious problems, such as hanging out with kids they are not supposed to be with, drinking, or using drugs. If you discover your child is lying repeatedly to cover up behavior issues, the AACAP advises seeking professional help to get to the root of the problem. Bringing in a compassionate therapist will get your child the help he needs.

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