What to Do When a Child Is Lying

lying

There will be times when you, as a parent or children’s ministry leader, will have to confront a child about lying.

Whether it’s lying about something they did or didn’t do, you can use the lie as a time to help them grow spiritually and as a teaching time about why we shouldn’t lie.

First of all, get to the bottom of why they lied.  Did they tell the lie for fear of punishment?  Or maybe they were bragging to impress their friends?  Or trying to avoid something they didn’t want to do?  An attempt to get attention?  Trying to cover up something they did?  Whatever the reason, find out why they felt the need to tell a lie.

Next, explain why God doesn’t want us to lie.  Lying is one of the 10 commandments.  Why would God place it as one of the 10 commandments?

Encourage children to tell the truth by emphasizing the importance of honesty.  Explain the main reason why God doesn’t want us to lie.  God is a God of truth.  He is always truthful and honest. As His child, He wants you to reflect this character as well.  He wants you to be truthful.  Honest.  A person of integrity.  Encourage children to tell the truth by emphasizing the importance of honesty.

Call the child up instead of just calling them out. Call them up to be a person of honesty and integrity.  Encourage them to walk in His truth.  Reflect His truth.  Live in His truth.

Create clear rules that emphasize honest communication.  This will show kids that you value the truth.

Talk with them privately…not in front of other kids.  Discipling kids for lying is not something you do TO THE CHILD.  Rather it is something you do FOR the CHILD.  Give them consequences rather than punishment.

Help them see that lying is a sin and is something we choose to do or not to do because we have a sinful nature.  Parents and leaders don’t have to teach kids how to lie.  It is part of this sinful world we live in.  Yes, God could have made us robots that were programmed to always tell the truth.  Instead, He has given us the free will to choose to lie or not to lie.  There is no true freedom and love without the ability to choose right or wrong.

Be a role model for honesty.  Example – you just checked out from a grocery store and you realize the cashier gave you too much money back.  Acknowledge what happened in front of your child and have them watch as you return the extra money.

Honor honesty.  Your child or a child at church drops a vase they are playing with and using to splash water on other kids.  Catch the child telling the truth and provide positive reinforcement.  Praise them by saying, “I know that must have been hard to tell me that you broke that dish, but I’m so glad that you chose to be honest about it.”

All kids will lie occasionally, but it’s vital to catch it and deal with it, so that it doesn’t become habitual. Kids have a variety of reasons for lying but the most common one is keeping out of trouble. Once the child knows you expect the truth (and you consistently back up this expectation with consequences), you’ll likely see much more honesty in your home and at church.

This article originally appeared here.

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Dale Hudson has been serving in children's ministry for over 30 years. He is an author, speaker and ministry leader.  He is the founder and director of Building Children's Ministry. BCM helps churches build strong leaders, teams and children's ministries.  (www.buildingchildrensministry.com)