“Why did he do it?” you wonder. “Haven’t I taught him to be honest?” These are natural reactions. But they can lead to harmful responses, such as getting too angry. Here are some better ways to handle the situation:

• Stay composed. Remind yourself, “I want to understand why this happened. I should help my child explain himself.” If necessary, take a break. Say something like, “Let’s talk about this when I feel calmer.”

• Be attentive and reassuring. Give your child an opportunity to say what happened without fear of punishment. Point out that everyone makes mistakes, and you want to help him fix the problem. You might even tell a story about someone else’s similar mistake, so he doesn’t feel alone.

• Determine “why.” For example, lies can result from being embarrassed, afraid, confused or in denial. If your child is usually truthful, a lie is a mistake to learn from. If lying is a careless habit, however, consider getting advice from a professional like the school guidance counselor.

• Make amends. Ask your child, “What do you think you should do now?” His conscience may guide him in the right direction. If he has lied to another person, for instance, he might need to apologize. Discuss what he’s learned and how he can prevent this situation from occurring again.

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