This blog post has been contributed by Parenting Matters (http://parentingmatters.in/), a Chennai-based organisation which partners with parents to build skillsfor deeper connection in families. It provides platforms for parents to learn together with input from trained facilitators. It conducts programs, workshops and also aims at spreading awareness on parenting through articles for magazines, talks with experts and its blog. This blog has been written by Sujata Vasant Dewaji, a facilitator at Parenting Matters.
Sanjana my 10-year old daughter wants a new hairstyle, to have flicks on either side of her long hair. I tell her that I do not think it is a good idea.
Few days later, I notice a small clump of hair on the floor near the mirror. I find a lot of it in the dustbin. I am puzzled. Realization strikes! Oh! Sanju has cut her own hair!
The conversation that took place:
“Sanju! Sanju! Come here at once!”, I call out to my daughter urgently.
“What mama?”, she asks.
“Whose hair is this?”, I demand.
She hesitates and then says fearfully, ”I don’t know”.
I turn her head and to my astonishment see unevenly cut flicks on both sides.
I look at her with a mixture of incredulity and anger.
“Sanju, you cut your hair? This is yours!” I shout.
“No, I did not cut my hair. I don’t know”, she retorts stubbornly.
The evidence is right in front of us, and she denies it again. I am livid!
Thoughts race through my head. How can she lie so blatantly? Did she think I am a dodo? And where did she learn to lie?
I start to lecture on how lying is bad and how it will become a habit. If one lies for such small things, what about the bigger issues? I warn her not to do it again and to henceforth tell the truth.
Why children lie?
There could be various reasons:
- Because they are not allowed to tell the truth. If Sanju had told me honestly, “I did IT, I wanted to very much”, she could have been reprimanded for IT. So it may be better not to be honest about her feelings in the future.
- To protect themselves from the blame, scolding and maybe, punishment too.
- To hide from parents something they feel will not be approved of.
- To avoid doing something they do not like such as brushing teeth, washing hands, homework.
- To give into fantasy what they lack in reality- “I scored all 10 goals!”
How can parents encourage honesty in the child?
- Have an open communication, and allow all feelings to be expressed.
- Listen without assumption and judgment. Focus on what happened instead of placing the blame on the child.
- Understand and empathise with the child.
- Communicate that it is ok to make mistakes and all of us do so sometime. Help the child to make amends and take responsibility.
- Have a dialogue and arrive at an amicable solution if there are differing views. Respect one another’s points of view.
- Try being good role models.
Conversation that could have taken place: