No one is more creative than an imaginative child! As kids ministry leaders, we celebrate their inherent creativity! However, this God-given talent for “seeing and saying” with the heart can be distorted into flat out sinning.
Kids don’t have a monopoly on lying but if we can intervene, we can help these little storytellers recapture their imaginations and their tongues. Understanding why kids lie could help you minister to this common morality problem.
Why Do Children Tell Lies?
- They feel unliked or unloved. Lying about achievements make these kids feel better, momentarily. Remember that the weight of this repeated sin can cause depression and anxiety. I truly believe that these kids truly want to come clean.
- Some kids lie for attention. For example, some years ago, I ministered to a child who reported every week that “Mom has cancer.” Mom didn’t regularly attend church so after praying for several weeks, I decided to reach out to Mom–who was as healthy as a horse. Mom and I were embarrassed and concerned about the child.
- Kids lie to avoid punishment. This behavior has probably coursed through the history of humanity. Nobody wants to bring home a poor report card or tell their parent they were disciplined at school.
- Children lie to skip out on chores–or homework.
- Lying can also be a symptom of a deeper issue. (Could there be abuse in the home?)
- Kids lie when they see adults they respect lie.
So what’s the fix for helping little liars? Well, minimizing the offense by labeling it something cute like, “a little white lie” or “storytelling” won’t help. We have to acknowledge the problem before we can go about fixing it.
5 Ways to Help Little Liars
- Set a good example. Tell the truth yourself, even when it is painful. Little eyes are always watching.
- Teach regularly on telling the truth. Include role playing opportunities so kids can “act out” good, biblical behavior.
- Talk about the evolution of lying and how it effects others.
- Make lying inexcusable. Love the child but refuse to accept lies without consequence.
- When kids “get busted” lying, ask them what their punishment should be. Make the child a part of this process and you’ll see them adjust the behavior quickly. For example, if Lilly tells me she lost her Bible Bucks, I replace them and discover she never lost them, I may restrict from the Bible Bucks store for a certain amount of time. Ask her how much time would be fair.
- Explain that you love the child but don’t like the lies. Tell the child that you love them for who they are, not who they think they should be. However, do not excuse the problem.
Like any growth issue, kids need to know that you love, love, love them. No matter how chronically a child lies, you can help them heal that imagination and their tongue. Be patient and kind. You can do it!
Read more from Mimi by visiting her blog at Tools for Kids Church.