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Liar, Liar

If you've ever caught your child in a lie, you know how maddening it can be -- and how hard to find the right thing to say.

"Kids lie for the same reason adults do -- to avoid unpleasant consequences," says Charles Thompson, Ph.D., professor of educational psychology and counseling at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. If you can show your child that you're not going to blow your top once you know the truth, she may not even try to put one over on you next time. Here, how to respond -- and what not to say -- if she comes out with one of these common kid lies:

The lie: "I already brushed my teeth."
The bad response: "No, you didn't. I can tell you did use your toothbrush."
The better response: "Let's do it together anyway."

The lie: "Daddy said I could."
The bad response: "Daddy would never say you could do that."
The better response: "Then let's wait until Daddy's home so we can talk it over together."

The lie: "I didn't break the window/toy/remote control."
The bad response: "I know you're lying so you won't get in trouble."
The better response: "I think you're worried I'll get angry if you tell the truth, but I know that accidents happen. Can we think of a way to fix it?"

The lie: "My friend said I could keep her favorite toy."
The bad response: "I don't believe that. You can't just take things like that."
The better response: "That's nice, but we should call her parents to make sure she asked them about giving it away."