I’ve been hearing a lot of stories lately about kids who lie about things and the outrage adults feel about it. I recently read the comments from a poll about what worries parents and found that nearly 50% of the comments were around lying. I think people expect their children to be innocents who don’t lie. Parents seem shocked when kids lie. They say, “How can I trust my kids? They’ll just lie.”

Trust doesn’t come with honesty, it’s actually the reverse. When people trust someone, they are more likely to be honest with them. When we––as parents or as teachers or as anyone who knows a child––give them reason to believe that we will not hurt them or freak out on them if they tell us something we don’t want to hear, they will be honest or at least more honest.

Recently my daughter’s been making a lot of slime. It’s annoying because it requires substances I don’t usually let her play with, but I do understand her desire to create. So I bought her glue, Tide, and lots of food coloring. Each time she made it, I would remind her not to get the dye on things as it was permanent. After about the 9th dye spill, I started to lose my cool. I yelled at her. I put things away by slamming cupboard doors and talking under my breath about how much I hated slime and her need to make it. I started calculating out loud how much plastic containers were going to cost now that mine were ruined with glue and food coloring!

This is what she grew to accept as the end result of her slime creation. It’s no surprise that she wants to avoid this kind of experience with me. So when she made slime secretly in the kitchen as I wrote in my office, she rushed, and blue dye spilled all over the brand new butcher block counter. She didn’t trust that I would be sane in this situation, so she began scrubbing at it. When this didn’t work, she put a stack of magazines over it. By the time I came in the room, she was hysterical, “I didn’t do it!”

She is not a liar. She is a worried child. Consider why kids lie before you call them liars. Often we need to build relationships instead of breaking them down.