How To Teach My Son to Stop Lying?

19 November, 2020
Q Salam Alaikum. Lying. What to do when my son comes home from nursery and he tells a story that actually did not happen to him but he says it as if it did happen.

When I question him or show that I am not sure to believe him or not, he gets upset and cries. Or he lies because he does not want to take the responsibility for his actions. How to teach him not to lie?

Answer

In this counseling answer:

You can either ignore him when he tells the lie. Or you can confront it.

Consider getting some stories about lying to read together with him.

Try to think of something equivalent that you could lie about and ask him how he would feel if you told him that.

When you know he’s being truthful, then be pleased with him and show that.

Get someone else involved that he may listen to, such as grandparents or aunties and uncles. Otherwise, his teacher.

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

It can be difficult when a child does something that is wrong yet cries when they reprimanded for it.

This happens to your son on occasions. He does something wrong by lying, but cries when you question him about the lie.

This probably makes it difficult for you to question about it the next time because as much as you don’t want him to lie, you also don’t want to upset him.

However, he needs to know that it is not OK to lie, or even tell tales that are essentially the same as lying, only in a different level.

Alhamdulilah that this is happening at a young age where he can be taught the best way to behave before it becomes a habit.

If you don’t stop it, then it could turn into something much bigger that could land him in a lot more trouble.

He may shed some tears in the process, but ultimately it is for his benefit.

Ignore or Confront

There are a few ways that you can approach the situation that, in sha Allah, will make it easier for you both.

How To Teach My Son to Stop Lying? - About Islam

You can either ignore him when he tells the lie. He will stop because you are not giving him any attention.

Or you can confront it.

The former is less likely to lead to tears; however, it may facilitate the lies further because you are explicitly telling him to stop.

The latter is more direct and clearly lets him know it’s wrong, but may come across as harsh if not approached appropriately.

At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that maybe the tears do hurt you, but if nothing is done about it, then he will continue to think his behaviour is OK and won’t stop.

They are two very different approaches which may or may not yield different results for different children. You might try both and observe which seems to be most effective and have the most desirable consequences.

Getting the message across

These are the two main ways to approach the situation, but there are ways in which to implement them and support you in getting the message across.

For example, you can find many books with moral stories that address the topic of lying. Many of these books are written in a way that is appropriate to his age.

Consider getting some to read together with him. This way you get the opportunity to read (and bond) together whilst teaching him about the consequences of lying in a friendly way.

This could also serve as a way to bring up the subject in a gentle way in relation to the lies he tells.

As part of this, you might also discuss how he would feel if you told a lie, or made up tales.

Try to think of something equivalent that you could lie about and ask him how he would feel if you told him that.

This will give him the chance to see how it feels to be on the other side of the lie. It will help to give him some kind of empathy for what you have to face when he tells tales. This could provide some motivation for him to stop.

Further Tips

Show your emotions in the way you talk to him. When you know he is telling a lie, let him see that you are not happy with him in your tone of voice.

Likewise, when you know he’s being truthful, then be pleased with him and show that.

Even better, if he takes a step back and withdraws a lie, make a point of verbally rewarding him for that too. This will increase his positive associations with being truthful and make him feel bad about lying.

If you feel that he is not responding well to you after some time, perhaps you could get someone else involved that he may listen to, such as grandparents or aunties and uncles. Otherwise, his teacher.

Another approach you could take is when he tells you a tale, tell him that you will go and check in with his teacher about it. You can go together and talk to his teacher about the tale and she can confirm that it is not true.

This alone may cause him embarrassment that he will refrain from telling tales again.

This approach may be a bit risky, so it might be wise to call his teacher ahead of time just to give her an idea of what’s going on so that she too can be prepared.

It also gives you the opportunity to work collaboratively with his teacher in the place in which the lies are stemming from. This teaches him again that his behaviour is not OK.

He Need to Learn It

Essentially, you need to nip it in the bud early before it gets out of hand. He needs to know it’s not OK to tell lies and tales. It may feel harsh when he cries, but it’s a lesson he needs to learn, and there are quite a few ways to approach it.

May Allah reward you for doing your best to raise your son with good moral values.

May Allah guide him on the straight path and make him the coolness of your eyes in this life and the next.

Amen,


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Hannah Morris
Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)