How To Treat Lies, Martyrdom and Bad Meal-Time Behaviors in Children

Lying and bending the truth

When the children of this impeachment generation hear of young George Washington they think, ‘What a dork.’ Fancy standing in front of your dad and saying, ‘I cannot tell a lie.’ George’s father was probably ore worried about annoying the environmentalists than his horizontal tree.

Every adult knows that lying is a sin, while bending the truth is a lent much cherished by lawyers. Children under the age of eight ears tend to be open with their parents and are quite transparent in their dishonesty. But by ten years their deceit is much more subtle and some events in their lives are guarded with secrecy. The aim is to establish honesty in the early years and to ensure that openness gets more reward man hiding the truth.

Behaviors in Children

  • With the four- to six-year-old, don’t overreact. Calmly say, ‘I don’t think this is true.’
  • Don’t debate; quietly state your opinion.
  • Make sure that honesty pays off. There must be less punishment for owning up than denying fault.
  • Notice their honesty and appreciate their openness.
  • Before the age of eight children are immensely open. If we encourage this when they are young, they will confide more in their tempestuous teens.
  • It is unfair to expect our children to be more truthful than the adults they live with.


Through the ages, martyrs have shown great talent at grabbing attention. It may seem a bit extreme to be stoned or burned but it sure puts you on centre stage. Martyrdom is still alive and well and being practiced by many six- to twelve-year-olds. They approach their mum, look pathetic and state, ‘I’m dumb. I’m ugly. You don’t love me. I’ve got no friends.’ Occasionally some of this may be true, but for most, martyrdom is used to get an avalanche of attention.

We don’t want to be insensitive to genuine concerns but when playing for attention, remember that martyrs get nowhere without an audience. Avoid getting dragged into debates about intellect, good looks and their number of friends. Make a brief statement: ‘you are clever and brilliant at swimming’; ‘I think you are a real good looker’; ‘I love you all’; ‘you have good mates.’ Then give a reassuring cuddle and move on.

Meal-time behavior

When a foreign dignitary lands in our country they are welcomed with a state banquet. Leaders since prehistoric times have known that sharing a meal boosts relationships and increases communication.

As the president chats, his emphasis is on communication, not manners. There is no chief of protocol saying, ‘Sit up straight, sir… Stop slurping … Don’t talk with your mouth full… You can’t leave until you eat your broccoli.’

Every night the evening meal provides time when families can sit, listen and relate. It is essential that the television is switched off and we mm a relatively blind eye to mess and imperfect manners. Initially there may not be deep conversation, but with time the guttural grunts may become words.

Food is about nutrition and meal times are for families to get together and communicate.

Don’t let squabbles and nitpicking cause stress. We want peace, not perfection.

  • Establish basic rules about leaving the table, rushing and dawdling.
  • Rushers must stay for a certain time and when they depart, they should leave the room.
  • Dawdlers are given time, then left to sit by themselves.
  • If dawdling is extreme set a cooking timer and when it rings, clear the table.
  • Have some non-negotiable rules: ‘You can touch or kick anything you want, as long as that “thing” is not your sister!’
  • Give feedback for good manners and fun times.
  • Clear the table together and establish good habits through example.

Filed Under: Family & Relationships


About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

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