Truth be told: what to do when your kid keeps lying

As parents, we try our best to teach our kids right from wrong.  We want them to grow up to be honest, independent and compassionate towards others.  Whereas our kids become more independent thinkers every day and are learning how to help each other out, they can also have a tendency to be dishonest.  This can be disheartening for every parent involved.  I don’t condone lying but I must admit that lying is quite typical among most children.  In fact, nearly 90 percent of children lie by the time they turn four years old.  However, by age twelve, children usually abandon their dishonesty.  So why do they lie and how do we help them in the meantime?

Children lie for the following reasons:

They want to avoid getting into trouble.  They don’t want to be accountable for their misdeeds; therefore, having to suffer the consequences of their actions.

Not only are their bodies growing, their imaginations and creativity are as well.  As a result, children grow easily bored with the truth and like to make up stories to keep themselves and those around them, entertained.

Just like most adults, children want to fit in and feel like they belong.  In order to feel like a member of the group, children may lie about the things that they own or places they have been.

Now that we know the inevitable, some children lie, how do we help them?

Whereas we can’t fix it, we can address their behavior by doing the following:

Communicate with your child and keep the lines of communication open.  Help him/her to feel safe to come to you with the truth, when he/she is ready.

Be careful not to get into an argument with your child.  If your child continues to lie regarding the topic, take some time to cool down and revisit the situation at a latter time.  

As tempting as it may be, try not to continuously ask questions regarding the same topic. 

Remind your child of the rules regarding lying and the consequences for being dishonest.

When your child finally does tell the truth, express your appreciation for their honesty and remind them of the importance of telling the truth.  Overall, truth be told: lying doesn’t last forever, our children do eventually grow out of it-I promise…

Reference list:


New York Daily news. (May 2010). Your kid’s a liar?  Great!  Retrieved October 29, 2012, from http://articles.nydailynews.com/2010-05-17/entertainment/27064647_1_older-kids-parents-child-study

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