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When Kids Lie

When Kids Lie
October 13, 2016 Erin Royer-Asrilant

When Do Kids Lie?

For more tips on honesty and lying, listen to our podcast episode Honesty & Lying in Kids.
  • To see if they get away with something Sometimes kids will lie just to test the power of the lie. If this happens, having child face person they lied to is perfect discipline especially in early elementary years. It will stick with kids and is a perfect logical negative consequence.
  • To escape discipline Check your disciple to make sure it’s positive discipline, rather than punitive. If you aren’t sure what that means, listen to our podcast episode, What is Your Disicipline Style? or see any of our discipline classes. Positive discipline lessens and even deflates defensiveness and allows parents to get to the crux of teaching good lessons. Also Setup discipline so there is more discipline for lying than when child is honest. As an example, for teens, safety trumps the drinking. There should be no discipline for calling to tell parents that the child had been drinking and needs a ride home.
  • To gain independence Check if child is being treated appropriately for his/her age and have some conversations about giving more freedom, after, of course, you address the lying. As some basic guidelines. For ages 2-3, this would mean letting children do for themselves anything they want to try, so long as it is not dangerous. By 5-6 kids want more control over their routine, extracurricular activities, the clothes they wear, and other daily decisions. By 8-9 kids want more physical freedom, liking sitting with friends at movies or a sports game or being allowed to ride their bike down the block to a friends house.  Adolescents are looking for privacy. If you don’t give these freedoms children are much more likely to lie, as a way of getting these needs met.
  • Too many demands causing too much stress. For example a kid with too many activities might say “I don’t like swimming.” “I have a headache.” If you know child loves swimming or loves an activity but has excuses for not going, address the stress level of the demands instead of the lying.
  • Boredom or perceived lack of attention Remember the story of the balloon boy in media. This was the homemade balloon that the parents said the boy was in and it flew 50 miles. When it landed the boy was no where to be found. The fear was that he had fallen. Later they found the boy hiding in the attic at home. At first the media and authorities thought it was just the boy but it actually turned out to be the parents idea. The lie got national attention, the attention they were looking for. This is pretty serious stuff so if you sense your child is doing this, seek professional counseling for the child and also for yourselves as a family to help with issues around self-esteem and feeling needed/loved.
  • To Cover up issues such as addictions or a behavior that would meet with family disapproval. These are bigger issues that are best aided by counseling.

One way to teach kids about honesty and lying is by reading books.

Printout the PDF to take to the library or bookstore or see the list below for our great list of books for kids on honesty and lying.

Books to Teach Honesty

  • Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big by Breathed
  • I’m Telling the Truth: A First Look at Honesty by Thomas
  • Sam Tells Stories by Robberecht
  • Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie by Rankin
  • Berenstain Bears and the Truth by Berenstains
  • Telling the Truth: Learning About Honesty by Burch
  • Be Honest and Tell the Truth by Meiners
  • Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire by DeGroat
  • Arthur and the True Francine by Brown


To get more tips and learn more, listen to our podcast episode on Honesty & Lying in Kids.