Let's start with three questions:
- What percentage of typically-developing 4-year-olds lie?
- What percentage of 2-3 year olds have daily temper tantrums?
- How many times per hour do 3-7 year old siblings fight?
Why are these questions important? They're important because when your children engage in misbehavior like these, how you feel about what they're doing is going to depend on how unusual or bad you think their behavior is. Then, how you manage the situation will depend on how you feel. So, basically, the more unusual or uncalled for you think the behavior is, the more likely you are to get very upset and to handle the situation in an overly harsh—and perhaps even abusive way.
A primary rule for parents when dealing with lying is don't badger or corner children! Imagine you give a child the third degree about whether or not he has homework. He denies it six times and finally, after your seventh question, he admits that he has some. What has happened? By this time, of course, you are furious. More important, however, you also have given your child six times to practice lying! You may think to yourself, "Sooner or later he'll realize he can't fool me and he'll give up." Wrong. Many children will continue to take the easy way out: they will simply attempt to become better liars.