THE BLOG
07/30/2015 10:06 am ET Updated Jul 30, 2016

Little Liars

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I really can't stand being lied to. It drives me bananas!

But the truth is, kids do it all the time.

I want to share a couple of my lying a-ha moments and strategies that have helped me think of it differently and have changed the way I'm now dealing with this behavior at home.

First, it's confession time...

I was chatting with a friend about nothing in particular and I totally lied to make myself seem more -- what's the word? -- cool, important, together, all of the above. It was so strange. I didn't plan it, I didn't even really understand it and once I said it, it was all I could think about for the rest of the conversation: Why did I just do that? Where did that even come from? Should I go back and explain? That moment reminded me that...

Sometimes we all say what we wish was true, but it's not always because we're trying to be sneaky or manipulative.

Later the same day, I was talking with my oldest and he told quite an obvious lie. I very nearly launched into a mini-lecture about the importance of trust and honesty, but I remembered my own lie and realized that in the confusing and very literal world of a kid's brain, it probably wasn't really a lie at all.

To kids, things stop existing when they can't be seen anymore, time is a very abstract concept and sometimes little people just forget, or tell you what they think will make you happy.

Maybe your kids aren't consciously lying at all, maybe they're just telling you their own personal version of reality.

So what does that mean for us as parents? How can we create a space for our kids where there's no opportunity to lie or at least no need to do it?

In my case, I decided that maybe not getting the answer I want actually means that I'm asking the wrong questions...

Parent: Did you do that? Kid: No.

Parent: What did you do? Kid: Nothing.

Parent: How did this happen? Kid: I don't know.

And then I started thinking about all the times I ask them questions that I already know the answer to, as a way to test their honesty, or to start a conversation... and teach a lesson.

I don't want my kids to lie to me, especially not about the little things. It makes me worry about what will happen when something really big and important happens to them.

So, here's what I'm choosing to do instead:

1. I try to take away the blame and shame and try not to give them a reason to lie in the first place. I take a big, deep breath and practice not being reactive before I speak.

Example: *breathe* "I see that you had a spill. Please get a cloth and wipe it up," or *breathe* "There's a big mess of toys over there, it doesn't matter to me who did it, we're all going to clean it up now."

2. I tell my little people, "I love YOU no matter what. I do not love that decision," all the time, and I mean it.

3. When I do get an honest answer, I say, "Thank you for being honest." Then I take a big, deep breath and practice not being reactive again. Because, sometimes the truth isn't really what I want to hear either.

How do you deal with lying in your house?

Christine Marion-Jolicoeur helps busy parents find the joy in everyday moments so they can raise healthy, connected kids. She's an Amazon #1 bestselling author, published in Huffington Post and elephant journal and creator of the Joyful Parenting ecourse. Download fee gifts for parents at ChristineMJ.com/freegift