Why do students lie?

Something that crossed my desk this week: Why do students lie?

Now, the short answer is obvious. I don’t want to get in trouble, and so I tell a lie. I minimise the effect of what I did, shift the blame on others, and if push comes to shove, simply say it wasn’t me. I know it is a lie, but if I don’t get caught, it’s worth it. And if I get caught, I’m in trouble anyway.

The context of the article was about restorative discipline. When a wrong is done, a relationship is broken. That relationship needs to be restored. Too often, parents tend to focus more on punishment than consequence. Punishment results in ‘what do I get’ from a child’s perspective. I did this, and am grounded, need to do a particularly unpleasant chore for a while, or have privileges taken away. I’ve done the crime, I have to do the time.
End of story. Till next time.

When the focus is on consequence, there will be a different result. This is because the consequence of a wrong may not just be a broken window, an untidy room or whatever. There is a relational matter involved. The cricket ball goes through the window. Someone needs to pay. The son who goes to his father and says: I was playing cricket when you told me I wasn’t supposed to. I broke the glass, and I’ll pay for it. Most importantly, I’m sorry for not listening to you in the first place. This son understands the importance of restoring a broken relationship (as well as a broken window 😊).

There is a reason for using the words punishment and consequence. We need to be careful not to equate the two. Consequence takes the next step, and in seeking restoration, often tempers the punishment to the context.

Our sinful nature gets us to shift the blame and tell the lie. But wouldn’t it be great if we could have our children understand that it’s not about punishment as much as about restoration?

With Christian Greetings,
M Plug, Principal