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Appropriate Punishment for Lying Child That Stresses The Loss

Armen Hareyan's picture
Punishment for lying child

Your child denies the truth, denies it again and you realize that his or her lying has becoming compulsive. Time outs, spanking and other punishments don't work as consequences. What can be an appropriate punishment that effectively work for lying kids?


This story takes the Christian approach on discussing the consequences for a lying child that denies the truth to parents, friends and relatives. However, it's out of the scope of this article to discuss the issues ineptly. Instead it only focuses on few aspects of the solution such as the consequences of lying and the importance of having a pure heart.

But first, let's discuss what is a punishment and what's its goal when your child is lying compulsively or randomly.

Punishment for Lying Child

The goal of any punishment is to correct your child's direction and improve your kid. It's not to cause him or her harm or any injury. No parent rejoices when his or her child is suffering from a harm caused by punishment. Thus, the point of the punishment is to convince your child that the direction he or she is taking with lying is a bad direction and has consequences. Now, the most important thing here for the child to understand is that the most important consequence is the one that hits his values. Here is what I mean by that.

The Consequences For a Lying Child

When I fill like my children are lying to me, I tell them this: "You can lie to me, but you can not lie to Jesus. If you lie to Jesus now, how are you going to pray to him in the evening?" This approach has had a very effective impact on them. It has been very positive. Since their early childhood we have tried to lead a Christian life. Following Jesus is the first priority in our house. Building a closest possible relationship with Jesus is the most important thing for my children. Now when they are tempted from something and lie compulsively I remind them that this hurts their relationship with Jesus. This reminds that everything that has been important for them is at risk. The most important thing that was valuable for them is harmed. And this brings me to my next point: the pure heart.

Pure Heart vs Compulsive Lying

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Having said what I wrote above I immediately remind my children that the most important thing for Jesus is the pure heart. Only people with pure heart will be able to see God one day. It is extremely important to keep your heart pure, even if it means bearing the consequences of lying. Even if you will be somehow punished for lying it's better to bear that punishment than to lose the pureness of heart.

All of the sudden you put a much higher gain in front of your children than the gain that they may have from lying. All of the sudden you put a much higher value in front of your children: the pure heart. Many parents, who have done the necessary background work of raising good Christian children, will be pleasantly surprised to see that their children during these conversations and moments of lying will choose the pureness of heart vs the supposed gain from lying.

You simply need to remind your child about his or her Christian identity, the relationship with Jesus and that he loses big part of it when he loses the pureness of heart.

Obedience to Parents

As a parent you may not always need to punish your child for lying. Instead remind him or her the commandments of God if those are the guiding values for your family. As I wrote above I remind them that they can lie to me, but not Jesus. That does have a positive impact. However, I also remind them the commandment of honoring parents. I remind them that when you lie to me you do not honor me as your parent. The child realizes that he breaks yet another commandment.

The child needs to understand that when he or she lies the consequences are not only the punishments for lying, but also there are divine consequences that go against the values he held dear since he became conscious about this life.

My personal experience has been such that this approach is appropriate and effective with children. They grow understanding their Christian faith and come to realization that every time they break a commandment of God it somehow hurts their own self. Thank God they choose the pureness of heart and relationship with Jesus. This teaches them an important less too: that in life you need to bear some consequences when standing up for the truth. Knowing there are consequences teaches them repentance because according to this study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry most children are unrepentant sociopaths. If true, then this is a very dangerous trend for our children.

Things are not always easy and that being upright is better than to escape by lying.



I agree with your approach in many ways. I always have tried to stress as well, that the lie breaks the relationship between the child and the parent. When you lie, you begin to put up a separating wall between us, and that leads to more lies to cover up, and more anxiety, and worry...and more broken relationship. That their lie actually keeps them from understanding just how much I love them....much in the way that our sin keeps us from understanding how much God loves us. Just as my children never need to worry that they will cease to be my child, I don't believe that our sin will cause God to stop loving us...but our sin can definitely cause us to pull away from God, trying to hide our shame, just as Adam and Eve pulled away and tried to hide from God in the garden. I always try as much as possible to point to the issue of the heart when disciplining my children...I will show them lovingly where they need to align their actions with scripture, and explain why this is important. As a parent, I try as much as possible to model God's grace when disciplining my kids, and therefore realize that "punishment" is rarely as effective as gentle correction. Than God, He disciplines me in the same way.