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How can you help your 11-year-old son who constantly lies and does not even realize it?

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2014-03-27 19:15:27
2014-03-27 19:15:27

My theory: The lying is simply a side effect or symptom of another problem. The key in solving this issue is determining what the underlying problem is. However, I can guarantee that there is a degree of pride and shame involved and that lying is a way of protecting the child from dealing with the shame. Lying is perhaps a way of coping.

Many children lie. It's usually part of the norm.

Children lie for many reasons. Sometimes they would rather lie than receive punishment for something they have done wrong. Other times the little stinkers lie because it's easier and they can be bone lazy. My husband is 60 and he can tell me little white lies even to this day. Does it make sense? Of course it doesn't, but, there are worse things. Be careful! Although hopefully this isn't happening to your child, some children can be sexually abused or at least harassed in that department and tell a parent only to be told they are lying or the parent completely ignores them.

If your sons lies are little ones, then don't worry so much about it. Although your sons lying is certainly agitating and exasperating to you, start taking privileges away from him. If he lies in front of friends, then don't hesitate to confront your son in front of his friend.

Kids can be taught not to lie at a very early age. As someone who works with problem kids I'll give you what works for me: DON'T wait until it's a major lie to address it. Address each and every non truth. That works well because it's usually something innocuous (seems too little to bother with) and you have a very good chance of knowing the truth for SURE. That's important because there is nothing worse than not being believed when you are being truthful.

Some people may balk at my next suggestion: to have more frequent "learning achievements," you kind of "set him up" with small situations where you know the facts, and you let him exercise his choice to tell the truth or tell an untruth (sounds better than "lie"). In EACH and EVERY situation, no matter how minor, you "nip it in the bud" and deal with it immediately. Tell your 11 year old about the importance of being truthful, and that when he gets older he doesn't want to be a person that people routinely don't believe or trust. Talk about the fact that, in the long run, being untruthful really gets you nowhere. Remain calm and don't yell at him, or make him feel guilty and down on himself. Use a simple REWARD/PUNISHMENT system. When you set up a situation and he chooses to be truthful, give lots of verbal praise, and allow him a simple privilege that he would enjoy. When he chooses to be untruthful, review the "rules" and expectations, remain calm and matter-of-fact, and explain that the untruth has "cost" him a privilege; ANYTHING that he enjoys doing will work. Let him know that all is not lost and when he is truthful, he has more chances to earn privileges. Let him know you are a little disappointed, that you still love him very much, and that you know he is smart and that pretty soon he will be "earning" all the time. THEN, be CONSISTENT, STRUCTURED, AND DISCIPLINED. It will be a lot of work in the beginning, but soon you will see the payoff.

I suspect he knows almost every time he is untruthful. He's just really getting good at it. That's why you have no time to waste, and also why "he's only eleven" bothers me so much. If he gets through puberty and is still being untruthful, your chances of recovery drop DRAMATICALLY. I know this is long, but it's as short as I could make it and still be useful.

You stated that he lies constantly and doesn't even realize it. Perhaps it would be appropriate to get some advice from a well respected child psychologist who could evaluate the situation and help determine if there is a more severe problem in development. He's not far from the teen years when it may be too late for behavior modification. You should ask your pediatrician for a referral and look for professional reviews of local doctors online.

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