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Psychological research shows that every child is capable of lying, given the circumstances. (Photo: TPG)

Set Clear Rules About Telling Lies
Have clear rules about honesty so that your kid knows she shouldn’t lie to you, or to anyone else. Make those rules clear, for example, “Don’t tell lies to me or to anyone else”, “telling lies makes me feel sad”, and “people won’t trust you if they think you tell lies”.

Don’t Wait Till They Tell A Lie
Talk with your five-year-old about the issue, preferably before you catch him in the act. You expect him to tell the truth, at all times.

Set A Good Example
Of course, you need to set a good example. You can’t realistically expect your child to be honest every minute of the day if he sees you fibbing every now and then (even if they are “white lies” told with the sole intention of sparing someone’s feelings). At this age, they won’t understand why white lies can be helpful at times.

Stay Calm When They Lie
If you discover your child has lied to you despite all your efforts, try to stay calm. Raging at him won’t help. It’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t mean that he is destined to be a liar for life.

Disapprove Of The Behaviour
Let him realise that you disapprove of his behaviour when he lies to you and that this behaviour is unacceptable. Explain that you would rather hear the truth from him, no matter what it is than to have him lie to you.

Don’t Punish Too Severely
 You will need to decide what to do in response. You might choose to let him go off with a severe reprimand and nothing more. But if he is in the habit of lying, you may decide a more severe punishment is appropriate.

Remind Them To Tell The Truth
However you react, always point it out to your kid that if he had told the truth from the start, the consequences would have been less troubling for him. That way, he’ll understand that honesty is always the best policy.

Text: Dr Richard C. Woolfson, Young Parents, May 2014 / Additional reporting: Sylvia Ong

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