GBENGA ADENIJI examines the views of parents and child handlers on the best ways to train lying kids
Children often learn more by what they see and not by what they are told goes a popular saying. It is for this reason that most parents, conscious of the effects of quality parenting on their children, constantly keep a tab on them.
But at times, parents can be distraught and helpless noticing their kids exhibiting certain behaviours which weren’t copied from them. For instance, how do parents handle kids who find it convenient telling lies which cannot be said to have been imbibed from them?
Founder, Diary of A Special Needs Mum, Mrs Bukola Ayinde, said the first thing parents should do when they noticed that their kid had learnt lie telling would be to have a discussion with him or her.
Ayinde said, “You should have a meeting and you and your child will make the rules. If he is caught lying, some of his privileges should be withdrawn. Some corporal punishment can also be given even though beating the child may not work.”
The lawyer stated that parents should also endeavour to reward their children to encourage truth-telling whenever they committed an offence yet still told the truth.
Ayinde said, “Even the punishment maybe reduced in half so he understands the importance of saying the truth.”
On his part, a real estate consultant and father, Mr Ayodele Ogunkeye, said whatever made a child to lie to his or her parents or anybody was traceable to a ‘natural cause’ linkable to his or her upbringing.
He noted that the lying child was merely engaging on an intellectual exercise to outsmart his or her parents, urging parents of such children to be at alert always.
Ogunkeye added, “The only way one can handle such a child is to engage him or her in an intellectual discussion and use logic to defeat the child. When this is achieved repeatedly, the child will realise that he or she cannot be more Catholic than the Pope. The symbolic import of the statement here is that the child’s parents are more knowledgeable than whatever pranks the child may want to play on them.”
For Reverend Chike Onigbo of St. Michael’s Parish Ohiya, Anglican Diocese of Umuahia, Abia State, parents with lying kids should take them to a counsellor who may be a pastor or a teacher in the school such kids attend.
Onigbo said it was the duty of the parents to convince such lying kids that such habit was bad, adding that they should also let the children know the implications of engaging in such habit and how it would affect them in life.
The cleric said, “They should not rebuke them harshly. Using spiritual counselling and prayers backed by seriousness and a sense of purpose, the issue will be decisively dealt with.”
Also, a parent and an educator, Mr Frank Alabi, stated that fear could be one of the reasons why a child would find it convenient to tell lies, arguing that such habit in a child was traceable to shoddy parental duties.
Alabi stated, “A child is either raised in lie or love. Lie and deception breed in the vacuum created when love is absent. Lie telling is therefore borne out of parental failure.”
He urged parents, seeking lasting solution to such vice in their kids, to show love to them.
He added, “One way to cure this habit is to show love. Parents must learn to create that safety net that makes their children confident in saying things as they are. It is that trust of safety that pricks a child’s conscience whenever he or she wants to lie. Nothing strengthens the conscience of children like love.”
Besides, a teacher and mother of two daughters, Mrs Cecilia Agbasi, was of the view that sometimes, some past experiences in telling truth could make a child tell lies.
She recalled that there was a day she caned her first child for losing some money which she sent her to give her creditor.
Agbasi stated, “I was so angry that day, especially when she confessed that she could have lost the money while one of her friends she met on the way to where I sent her was dragging her arm.
“I gave her six strokes of the cane on her buttocks that day. Few days after, when my daughter was about an hour late home from school, she lied that their teacher delayed them whereas she was copying a missed lecture note from one of her friends.”
The mother told SUNDAY PUNCH that it was on further interrogation that she discovered that her daughter’s experience the day she lost the N3,000 made her to twist the story of what caused her lateness home.
She said, “She felt that despite telling the truth, she still got a beating. Why not tell a lie instead? I had to talk to her like a mother in a warm way. I urge parents to show restraint in trying to discipline a child who tells lies so that it is not counterproductive.”
A teacher, Mrs Ronke Ogundimu, advised parents to always look at their children straight in their eyes to tell them they were lying anytime they suspected such behaviour.
She said, “Such children will have a rethink before lying next time. Handling kids who tell lies is easy if parents can also be sincere with themselves. As parents, do you also tell lies? Are you the kind of parents that tell your kids to tell someone you are not at home when you are at home? Once you have laid the foundation for lying, your children will emulate you.
“Parents, guardians and caregivers must show good examples for children to emulate. When this is done, that is when they can boldly tell such kids to say the truth always no matter the situation.”
Ogundimu added that she usually encouraged her siblings and students to say the truth always as it was the right thing to do.
She said, “Yes, there is a time to talk and a time to be silent, but truth is sacrosanct and should be told at all times.”
On a different level, the US-based Child Mind Institute noted that some kids, lacking confidence, tell lies to enhance their self-esteem, while those with anxiety or depression might also tell lies about their symptoms to get the spotlight off them.
Examining the issue from a psychological perspective, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye, said parents should first come to the realisation that it would take a smart child to tell lies to his or her patents.
Elegbeleye, who is a psychologist at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, also stated that such lie telling would be attracting certain gains which parents of such lying kids must also notice and withhold.
He noted that the parents should also sieve the gains such child was deriving from telling lies from the motivators for doing so.
The don added, “If it is a society where there are counsellors, the parents should seek their help. But if they want to do it themselves, they should channel the energy of the child in telling lies to something productive because it takes a smart child to tell lies.”
According to Elegbeleye, it is important for parents with lying kids to know the gains the children derive from such habit so as to block them.
He also noted that parents of such children could, for instance, introduce a reward system for attending to their homework promptly all in a bid to check the attitude.