my nephew just entered elementary school a few weeks ago and is developing a habit of lying about small things but does so persistently. At some point, my sister (her mother) does not notice the lies at first but only finds out accidently. She told me I was free to teach him about this but yet have to come up with a good idea.
I'm not a friend of approaches that focus on scaring children off so that they desist from lying because of fear. Like you will get taped to the table if you don't behave while eating or you will get your mouth washed with soap if you continue using bad words.
So, there are two aspects I guess would be helpful: 1. Teaching about the advantages of honest and nice speech 2. Teaching about the disadvantages of lies and bad speech.
Thoughts I thought I could do:
1a. Inquiring how it feels when people talk nicely to him, make compliments, are honest and are friendly in general. --> asking him how other people may feel when he is talking friendly and nice, makes compliments and is honest and friendly in general --> encourage him to try it out --> make a game out of it or make a deal that we both talk nicely for the day.. (?)
1b. Tell him a story where honesty and lies are the core theme, but I don't know any good ones.
2a. We were learning some magic tricks together (making coins disappear behind the hand..) the other day and there are a few more tricks we could try out next time. He enjoyed showing these tricks to others and it would be a good starting point to ask him what the difference between a magic trick and a lie is (and basically discovering with him that magic tricks don't hurt or upset anyone, but lies do. If one lies, one fears that one is caught, if one is caught there is lots of trouble, other people will be sad and upset and nobody needs this. Magic tricks are there to make other people laugh and smile, that's why we both like them!)
2b. A story, a fable where lying turns out to hurt people or create a lot of trouble. I don't know any good story suitable for that.
2c. Telling him that I heard he was lying to his mother and asking him why (too confrontative?). Pretty direct approach of course.
So.. that's about what I came up with. Honestly. I have no idea if any of that would work and it's unfortunate that I don't have any good child-stories about this particular topic at hand. I would greatly appreciate some input (especially from people with kids) on how the issue of lying can be dealt with skillfully and how the value of honesty can be taught to a child.
Thank you very much!