My 6-year-old son lies about being sick to avoid school and other things he does not want to do. How do you discourage your child from continuing with this type of behavior in a healthy way?
You must address lying behavior assertively because this is a habit that can become serious. Tell him the story about the boy who cried wolf and explain how lying undermines trust in relationships. Encourage him to share the reasons he is avoiding school and his feelings in general. Work with his teacher on the underlying reasons for his avoidance and help him develop more effective social and emotional skills for handling stressful situations. If he has developed chronic physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches, consult your pediatrician as well. Never let him stay home unless he has observable medical symptoms. If he does, require him to rest and skip all activities, making sure that it is not a rewarding experience to stay home. Six-year-old boys should prefer to be with their friends at school!
Dr. Patti Zomber is a child psychologist based in Marina del Rey, Calif. She has written numerous articles about parenting, and she is a contributing editor on NestleFamily.com as well as the editor of the Los Angeles Psychologist journal.