Your Child is Lying, Getting Bad Grades, or Behaving Badly, What Do You Do?

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At Dad university, we often promote the importance of emotional intelligence, the acceptance of flaws and mistakes and the forgiveness that comes with unconditional love. Well, when dealing with children who are lying, getting bad grades and behaving badly in general, you’ll need to exercise all of the above!

As a parent, you have to devise an appropriate response to a lying child and a child who gets bad grades and behaves badly that will serve as acceptable punishment. Your job is really to be a coach in your child’s life and not a dictator. In a parent-child relationship, your child may start lying to you to hide bad news or information that could get them in trouble or make you upset. Your reaction to their bad news is extremely important and can either strengthen or weaken the bond between your child and yourself. If your reaction to their mistakes is constantly aggressive or negative, your child may find more comfort in lying to you.

So, here’s what you do to address a lying child, a child getting bad grades or one generally exhibiting bad behavior:

  • If your child is lying, the first thing you need to do is assess how you react to them giving you bad news, making a mistake or misbehaving. If your reaction is always negative, chances are your child will stop admitting the truth out of fear for your reaction. However, please remember you’re not the only one to be blamed for their behavior. For example, you told your child not to have candy before bed and the next morning you find some candy wrappers under their bed. You get upset, which is understandable, and yell at your child in an attempt to scold them. Most often than not, your child will either stay away from candy before bed from then on or do it in secret and lie in an effort not to upset you again.

It’s better for both you and your child if you foster trust in telling the truth. Let them know that they will not be in trouble or get you upset if they tell the truth. Tell and show them that you still love them unconditionally, despite their mistake. It’s super important to introduce this tactic at an early age to develop strong communication with your child as they get older.

Also, if you’re going to punish them, make the punishment related to the mistake or bad behavior. For example, if your child disobeys you and eats candy before bed, a suitable punishment could be banning candy from the house for a month or using candy to reward good behavior – flip the script!

  • If your child is getting bad grades, it’s time to become more involved and more supportive of their school life. Try to investigate and identify the challenges your child faces in the subjects they’re failing, talk with their teachers and spend more time helping them with their homework and projects. Being quick to punish your child for getting bad grades only pushes them further down the rabbit hole – it doesn’t help at all!

Punishing your child for not understanding or not being able to grasp concepts in school at the rate of the other children will only make them feel even more inferior and less motivated to improve. What you should do is be their coach and offer them positive reinforcement while helping them to improve their grades.

  • If your child keeps getting in trouble at school, allow the natural sequence of events to unfold and allow their punishment at school to serve as the official punishment. There is no real benefit to punishing your child again at home after they’ve been detained, suspended or otherwise punished for bad behavior at school. They will most likely lie about punishment at school in the future to avoid getting in trouble twice and upsetting you.

It will prove more effective to understand from your child and the school what your child did wrong, why they’re in trouble, and what can be done to prevent your child from repeating this offense. Guide your child in understanding why what they did was wrong, how they can remedy the problem, and what to do to prevent this behavior from popping up again.

  • If your child admits bad behavior to you, such as drinking or smoking, the first thing you should do is tell them you appreciate their honesty and that they trust you enough to admit this to you. The immediate follow up is to have an open and genuine discussion about how you feel about the bad behavior, the dangers associated with it, and whether or not you approve. Help them to understand that while they can make their own decisions, they need to think and make responsible ones. You must also reiterate that you’ll always be there for them.

Podcast Ep. 165 How to React When Kids Make Mistakes

It’s essential to understand that not punishing your child does not mean you agree with or support their bad behavior.  We want you to understand that there are other ways to discipline your child and curve bad behavior than just punishment. If your child has lied to you, received bad grades or acted out of character, be sure to go down this checklist:

  • Listen to them
  • Be empathetic and try to understand the problem from their point-of-view
  • Encourage them to tell the truth
  • Show and tell them that you still love them unconditionally
  • Reprimand them with punishment that’s associated with their bad behavior
  • Offer positive reinforcement and motivation
  • Spend more time with them in completing their school assignments and projects
  • Do not punish them again at home for being punished at school
  • Improve their problem-solving and confrontational skills to reduce and prevent bad behavior in school

After all, we want our children to be honest and grow up to be functioning and upstanding citizens. The better you are at understanding your child’s perspective as a parent, the more grounded your relationship with them will be in trust, honesty, and safety.


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