A mom asked about her child’s fibbing and tendency to exaggerate. She wanted to know what she should do.
When this happens in my office, I tend to stop the conversation and say something like:
“I’m struggling with something right now… and I need your help. I know that sometimes people don’t tell the truth or they say things in an exaggerated way to try to impress others or to avoid getting in trouble.”
Then I wait and see if they respond. Even if they don’t, pausing helps impress upon them that this is a problem that others shouldn’t excuse.
Then I might say, “and I’m uncomfortable right now. I don’t feel that what I’m hearing from you is truthful or it’s an exaggeration. Is what your saying one of those? Could you be exaggerating?”
At this point, kids/teens will be more honest, especially if you are not angry or threatening them with a punishment. If they continue to fib, cut the conversation short and say “Well, I want to keep talking and listening, but it makes me feel foolish if the other person is just making stuff up. Why don’t we take a break and we can talk more later on when we can have a more honest conversation.”