- Criticize or do not allow for speaking feelings/opinions/observations
- Don’t give the benefit of the doubt, always believe or defend the other person over your child
- Encourage triangulation: don’t tell (other parent/family member/sibling/teacher/therapist/neighbor); keep secrets in the family
- Invalidate vulnerable feelings (you were just being lazy, it wasn’t that hard)
- Treat all transgressions as something equally awful (you didn’t brush your teeth, lied about your homework, stayed out past curfew, shoplifted; you ALWAYS lie)
- No space to discuss, negotiate, or problem-solve (because I said so)
- Give harsh punishments not commensurate with the situation
- Implied or looming threat (if you do that again, you are going to lose your phone for the rest of the school year)
- Encourage subservience over truth (your elders are always right)
- Be inconsistent; sometimes something is bad/sometimes it’s ignored. Intermittent reinforcement (response) schedules maintain undesired behaviors.
- Emphasize or exaggerate a show of social status; bragging (new car, elaborate vacation, technology, job titles, possessions, house, money)
- Don’t admit to errors, accidents, or mistakes; never apologize
- Ignore the specifics of the situation (I don’t care what happened, you lied). School, friend group, family interactions, social media, academics, sports, peer pressure, risky behavior, emotional symptoms including anxiety or depression; the context is ignored.
Children learn to lie as early as age 3. Initially, it can be a way of learning how to distinguish between fantasy and reality. While experimentation and creativity may originally be the impetus, as they grow older, children who fear punishment may lie to get out of trouble.
Punishment may actually promote more and more lying until it becomes a habit. This can carry into adulthood.
Also see On Over Apology.