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How to prevent my 10 years old son from telling lies?

Q: How to prevent my 10 years old son from telling lies. We are working parents and neither tell lies or encourage the child to do so (like while attending phone calls). We tell him all kinds of moral based stories. One of us does not believe in hitting/whacking and always softly inculcates the value while the other takes to hitting for grave mistakes. But we find he tell lies, rather fibs and every time get caught. At school and other places there has been never any complaint. We have also told him that whatever be the mistake, he would not be punished and he can confess - so that the fear of punishment would not be there with him and he tells the truth. We are concerned if he is into compulsive lying. We are friendly with him and discuss various subjects in a healthy environment. Where have we gone wrong? Or are we unduly worried?

A:I think it is important to examine the kind of lies your son tells and the issues around which they occur. Is there a point to his distortion of the truth? For example, if he says that there is no homework, that might be a lie to save him from working on it. But if he makes up stories, which would be of no benefit to him, it is a different situation. So instead of putting all lies into one category, try and study which events or episodes lead to lying. When you have discovered that he is not speaking the truth, have you asked him the reason or just punished him? The more we explain our rules to the children, as well as our punishments, the more likely it is that he will learn to abide by your rules. There are some children who may do something wrong in order to get the attention of parents. Make sure that you give him time and affection when he is well behaved, so that being noticed for being naughty is no longer a reward. The key to the problem is to find out why he prefers to mask the truth. Beating him may not have a positive effect at all. At ten years of age, he can think and reason and your treatment of his behaviour should reflect that. Sometimes children tell their friends that they have six cars at home. This may be done by a child to impress his friends and make them respect him! The strategy usually fails. Although you ask him to speak the truth and promise nothing will happen, it appears that you do beat him after that. You must keep your word so that he learns to trust you. If his behaviour at school is OK and it is only at home that he has problems, don't you think that you have to make sure that you are not confusing him and somehow making the home, the problem? Things can be worked out, but do give it your close attention and try to be consistent.

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