When Grandchildren Lie

Written by Becky Danielson from M. Ed. Faith First Parent

There’s something unnerving about a grandchild who lies. We expect truthfulness and honesty in our families. When a fib escapes from the lips of a darling grandchild, no matter what age, a grandparent can be puzzled, sad, or just plain mad.

Unfortunately, lies happen. At some point, all children will lie. What’s important is what’s done with the lies to train children to be honest.

Lying can be broken down into three categories: attention, acceptance, and avoidance.

Attention Lies

Attention lies are typically fabrications told by young children until approximately age six to get a desired response. These lies are usually fantasy-based. An imaginary friend or an amazing adventure would qualify.

In these instances, encourage creativity while pointing to truth within the story to help the child differentiate between fantasy and reality. “The imaginary frog story you told me was terrific. Let’s get the art supplies out. I’ll write your story out for you and then you can illustrate it. Your creativity is wonderful!”

Acceptance Lies

Acceptance lies are security and belonging based told by 7 to 8-year-olds and up. These lies are told with full knowledge of the truth. Kids who lie to gain acceptance are looking for love and a desire to be included. These children are falling into the trap of performance-based acceptance.

If you are hearing lies of this nature, love your grandchild unconditionally and help him to see the best in himself. Affirm the grandchild for who he is as a person. “I really appreciated how kind you were to your sister today. You have a kind heart.” When you hear an acceptance lie, call the child out and redirect with understanding and empathy. If the lies are in response to seeking friendship, help your grandchild with appropriate social skills in friendship building. If possible, check with the child’s parents. Being aware of the friends the child is choosing is extremely helpful.

Avoidance Lies

Lies of avoidance are to stay out of trouble. There are two types of avoidance lies: commission and omission. Lies of commission are the bold-faced lies, “No, I didn’t do it.” Lies of omission are sneaky lies where the truth is conveniently left out, “No, I don’t know why Aria is crying.”

When you catch your grandchild in avoidance lies, insist on the truth by acknowledging the lie. State your expectation for truth, a confession, a request for forgiveness, and amends to be made to restore the relationship. Discuss why honesty is an important character trait and how honesty builds trust.

Conclusion

Modeling honesty is the best way to build trust and integrity. Be a truth-teller. Be trustworthy by following through with plans and keeping promises. Expect the best from your grandchildren in how they tell the truth. And when they lie, deal with it firmly but lovingly.

“The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”
Proverbs 12:22


Becky Danielson, M.Ed., is a Christian, wife, mother, and licensed parent & family educator. She had the gift of a grandmother who influenced her life tremendously.

Becky is the co-author of Faithful Grandparenting: Practical Ideas for Connecting the Generations. She blogs for parents and grandparents at FaithFirstParent.com.

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