The best advice about what to do when your child lies to you, came from you, Dr. Laura! Although it was a long time ago, I still use this technique today for other things as well.
My son was about 7 when he lied about something not all that serious – brushing his teeth. When I saw that his toothbrush was dry, I knew he’d lied or YUCK, used mine. We talked about the character of someone who tells the truth, how they can be depended on, how people trust them, and how other people perceive them. I punished him by taking away his “tech time” anything that was either plugged in or used batteries, and I thought that would be the end of it. My son would NEVER lie to me again, I was sure.
About a month later, he tested me again. Being 7, it wasn’t a terrible lie, but it was the act of lying that hurt me the most. I used your advice and decided not to mention that I knew he was lying. Instead, I turned the tables on him and showed him how it felt to be lied TO. For one entire day, I lied to him every chance I got. Examples: “What are we having for dinner tonight, Mom?” was met with “McDonalds.” “Can I play in the ball pit?” Me: “Sure!” I said it sweetly! When I began cooking dinner at home, he asked why, since it was already planned that we go to McDonalds. I just looked at him and said, “Sorry, I lied.” “So I can’t go and play in the ball pit?” ME: “Sorry, I lied about that too.” Dr. Laura, It took a lot of planning and craftiness on my part to pull this off for the entire day. I’m not used to lying, so it wasn’t as easy as one might think. In total, I think I lied to him about ten times. Each time, I simply replied, “Sorry, I lied.”, then walked away. By the end of the day, he was crying every time I even opened my mouth. He promised me to never lie again as he didn’t like how it felt to be lied to.
I can honestly say that even going through the teenage years I could hear his little mind clicking when he even thought about lying. The flip side of that, however, is that now he is painfully honest. There are some things a mother just doesn’t WANT to know!
Thanks for the tip; you’re the best!