What's Your Opinion About Children Who Lie?
Children lie for the same reason adults lie. They don't want to admit to another person they made a mistake. If we think back to a little white lie we might have told, it usually is a result of not wanting to hurt someone else's feelings or make ourselves look bad.
I have a habit of trying to analyze my own role in someone lying to me. I wonder what impression I have given them that would make them think I would want anything but the truth. I wonder how I reacted to past situations that resulted in them lying.
Because I am training children in a homework habit, I make a big deal of checking agendas each morning until each student has demonstrated consistent success with the established pattern.
Learning to highlight assignments once they are placed in the completed folder has proven challenging, but is the main reason many students forget their homework on the kitchen table. If the children don't fully understand the purpose of this one step, they will often highlight everything to show they are doing the pattern. After so many years of checking agendas, I can tell when they are not following the correct pattern and forming a habit of lying that will not support them as they matriculate.
Many times the assignments depend on their honesty. If the assignment is to practice a presentation, spelling words, or vocabulary words, there is no real way to prove they have done it until they take a test or do a presentation. Some student lie to me, so they get the sticker that says they completed their homework, when it fact they didn't.
This week, I told my students I value honesty over anything. I instructed them to show me with a thumb up or down depending on if they really did the highlighted assignment. They were all honest and only four children had actually done the work assigned.
I shared with the students that I knew before I got to them which children would have a thumbs up and a thumbs down, and posed the question, "How could I have known if I wasn't in their homes?"
The children quickly realized that the performance on presentations and on tests told me a lot about whether they had been telling the truth.
When asked why they lied about doing the work when they hadn't, they shared some of the following reasons: (Hall of Fame is 15 minutes of free play on Fridays for those who have managed their homework and been responsible all week.)
"I wouldn't have been able to go to Hall of Fame."
"I felt like I would disappoint you if I hadn't followed the pattern."
"I want to be responsible. I didn't realize I was lying to you."
"I get in trouble at home if I don't get to go to Hall of Fame."
"I didn't have time, and I didn't think it would matter."
"I didn't think it was important to practice my words."
"I had cotillion and ran out of time."
It was obvious from their comments that I needed to clear up my expectations, explain the real reason for highlighting, and why I assign the work in the first place.
Many children lie because of how we react to their mistakes. They want to appear to be responsible, but if a mistake becomes too big of a deal, there is little chance of using it as a learning experience.
I believe children would do things differently if they just knew how.
If they lack strategies for relief, they will lie. It's all for sell-preservation. Being open to their mistakes, celebrating them as opportunities, and finding different ways to solve the issue that led to the lie, will help children see the value in telling the truth.
These are just my thoughts. What do you think?