why do kids lie


If you are looking for info on children lying and want to know WHY DO CHILDREN LIE and what to do about it, then you have come to the right place.


It may be a bitter pill to swallow but the truth is honesty and dishonesty are often learned in the home.

Cue: shock, horror! It’s so much easier to blame someone else right?

We definitely don’t want that to be the case but the reality is there is usually something in the home environment that condones or encourages this lying behavior and makes it acceptable.

So let’s try to work out what it is.


Most parents are concerned when their child or adolescent lies.


In some instances we expect the occasional lie from children.

Young children often make up stories and tell tall tales.

This is normal activity because they enjoy hearing stories and making up stories for fun.

It shows that they are using their imagination.

When they are young, children sometimes may blur the distinction between reality and fantasy.

In these instances, lying is probably more a result of an active imagination than an attempt to deliberately lie about something.


Lying isn’t so appealing in older kids.


If lying continues into the older years, the reason for it is usually different from an overactive imagination.

An older child or adolescent may tell a lie to be self-serving, such as denying responsibility or to try and get out of a chore or task.

They may do it to get out of trouble or to protect someone else.

They most likely know full well that they are lying and that it’s wrong but they do it anyway.


So how often is your child lying?


Parents should respond to isolated instances of lying by talking with the youngster about the importance of truthfulness, honesty and trust.


Explain to your child why honesty is important?

Do you KNOW why honesty is important?

Do you encourage your children to be honest?

Are they inadvertently punished for telling the truth?


Some adolescents may lie to protect their privacy or to help them feel psychologically separate and independent from their parents.

Other adolescents discover that lying may be considered acceptable in certain situations such as not telling a boyfriend or girlfriend the real reasons for breaking up because they don’t want to hurt their feelings.


We call these little white lies.


According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary a white lie is defined as a lie about a small or unimportant matter that someone tells to avoid hurting another person.

Some parents may consider these polite white lies to be harmless.

We often ignore or downplay the severity of such white lies because parents often tell these lies themselves, without even thinking.

Other parents think differently and wish to nip these white lies in the bud, because they feel that honesty is the best policy at all times.


Ask yourself now:


Have you ever told a white lie yourself?

Have you ever said a dress looked nice on someone even though it wasn’t at all appealing to you?

Have you ever said you were too busy to attend an event even though the truth was you had no desire to go?

Have you often told bigger lies to people yourself?

Do your kids witness these lies?

Do they hear you justify why it may be okay to tell a lie?

How honest are you?


We need to remember this:


You are the most important role model for your children.

When a child or adolescent lies, parents should take some time to have a serious talk and discuss the difference between make believe and reality, and lying and telling the truth.

Parents should also open an honest line of communication to find out exactly why the child chose to tell a lie, and to discuss alternatives to lying.


A parent should lead by example and do their best to never lie.


But hey, we are human – maybe we do slip up sometimes.

In these instances if we are caught in a lie, we should express remorse and regret for making a conscious decision to tell a lie.

We should do our best to make amends by being honest and telling the truth.

Clear, understandable consequences for lying should also be discussed with the child early on.


Other questions to consider asking your child:


What was your reason for lying?

Did you think you would get into trouble if you told the truth?

What would have happened if you shared with the person instead the whole truth?

Would their reaction have been okay, if it meant you were at least being honest?

Could you have delivered the honest truth in a nicer, kinder way (so you didn’t have to lie)?



Some children, who know the difference between truthfulness and lying, tell elaborate stories which appear believable.


Children or adolescents usually relate these stories with enthusiasm because they receive a lot of attention as they tell the lie.

Other children or adolescents, who otherwise seem responsible, fall into a pattern of repetitive lying.

They may feel that lying is the easiest way to deal with the demands of parents, teachers and friends.


These children are usually not intending to be bad or malicious but the repetitive pattern of lying becomes a bad habit.


It should be noted that some forms of lying are cause for concern.

A serious repetitive pattern of lying is potentially a red flag to note and could indicate an underlying emotional problem.

Consult a professional adolescent or child psychologist to find out whether help is needed.


Have a conversation with your children about the meaning of the following quotes:


Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure. James Altucher

The most free person in the world is the one who has nothing to hide.

The greatest advantage of speaking the truth is that you don’t have to remember what you said. Unknown

Honesty is the best policy. Benjamin Franklin

Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living and truth loving. James E Faust.

An honest man is respected by all parties. William Hazlitt

The first step toward greatness is to be honest. Proverb



In a nutshell, here are some tips to help steer children away from lying:


-Reward honesty in your home

-Be honest at all times yourself

-Have a conversation with your child if you catch them being honest about the merits of telling the truth and the pitfalls of lying.

-Remember the truth doesn’t cost anything but a lie could cost you everything, including a loss of trust in your words.

-You can’t constantly lie and expect people to trust you.

-Once you catch a person in one lie, it makes you question everything they say.

-The truth may hurt for a little while but a lie hurts forever.

-Big or small, lies are still lies.

-Tell a lie once and all your truths become questionable.


All in all, your child shouldn’t feel as if they have to tell someone EVERYTHING.


They are after all entitled to some privacy and their own opinion doesn’t always have to be shared.

However kids should be encouraged to tell the truth and NOT LIE.

Best way to encourage an honest child?

Create an environment where honesty is respected and rewarded and NOT punished unnecessarily.


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