Ep. #15 Why kids lie and how to respond to them?

Ep. #15 Why kids lie and how to respond to them?

If you are struggling with a kid who is lying then today’s episode is for you. We will be discussing Why do kids lie? And what you can do about it without making a big deal out of it. 

So the other day I was watching a movie about the invention of lying. A technical glitch at the bank causes Mark to invent the art of lying. He is the first person ever to lie and everybody believes him. Using his newfound power, he becomes rich and famous.

The plot seemed so true to the point that I thought yes maybe that’s how lying must have been invented. So simple. 

Reasons why kids lie
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Another stark difference between reality and the movie was how comfortable people were with the truth. If a girl didn’t like a guy she would just say it on his face. No sugar coating it in flowery words. No people-pleasing and most importantly honesty in work.

I was brought back to reality by a loud ruckus in the kid’s room. Apparently, the elder one had pushed the younger one and she was crying. On asking him did u push your sister? I got plain nooo. That was the first time he had resorted to lying. Does this happen at your house too? Kids lying on your face. That brings us to today’s episode on why kids lie.

As much as we might like to think that our children will always tell the truth, the reality is that lying is something most children will resort to at one point or another. It’s worth noting that telling lies is a natural part of child development and that in most cases, children outgrow this behaviour.

Studies show that lying is common from age 4 to 17, and by age 7, kids can tell a lie so well that often their parents can’t even tell they’re being untruthful.

So Why Do Kids Lie?

When addressing this common problem, parents should consider a child’s age, the circumstances and reasons for the lie, and how frequently he engages in this behaviour. For example, many younger children -usually younger than age 6, can not yet make a clear distinction between fantasy and reality, and their “lie” may actually just be an expression of their imagination. 

That said, a child as young as age 4 is perfectly capable of deliberately telling a lie to avoid getting into trouble or get something he wants. But since lying really is serious misbehaviour, how can you address it without fueling the problem. Handling sensitive children having lying problem can be particularly tough. A little extra coaxing can lead to a storm.

Some common causes of lying in school-age children include:

  • Wishful imaginative play
  • Fear of punishment
  • A desire to brag to friends/classmates to boost the status and impress them
  • To avoid something they don’t want to do (such as clean up toys)
  • A desire to not disappoint parents when expectations are too high
  • Unhappiness with something in their lives
  • An attempt to get attention

Here are some concrete ways to identify why your child lies. 

Firstly identify if it’s a tiny lie.

If yes then laugh it off. The more lightly you take it, the more quickly you are going to get out of it!! Children lie to avoid confrontation, a lot of it is mindless and to avoid thinking!

For seeking attention

It’s best to ignore it. Rather than saying harshly, “That’s a lie. I know that didn’t happen to you!” Let them enjoy the attention especially if it’s coming from under-confidence. 

A lie about a daily routine. 

For eg. homework, hygiene, toys can be first ignored and then be told to do the action again. Instead of calling it a lie, it is a “story”! So if your child says I have cleaned my room and you know for sure he hasn’t then say i thinks that’s a lovely story but why don’t you clean it up again. In this way, you didn’t highlight the lie and still got the job done.

Lying for serious reasons. 

For eg. teens lying about where they’ve been or what they have done, the first thing you can do to deal with this level of lies is to sit with them and lay down the rules and tier repercussions. 

Even if you have already done that before. Be clear in the punishments and stand your ground each time your teen or older child breaks the rules. Consequences should help them practice better behaviours and help them learn from it.

Don’t call it out or highlight it. 

That sounds like a bit of a story to me. You must have felt afraid to tell me the truth. Let’s talk about that.”You’ll get the honesty you’re looking for, as well as information that may help you foster the truth in the future

Acknowledge and appreciate honesty. 

Express encouragement when your kids tell the truth. “That must have been difficult for you to tell me what really happened. I admire your courage for telling the truth. You are really growing up!”

Allow your child to save face. Don’t give your child the opportunity to fib by asking questions to which you already know the answer. For example, instead of asking, “Did you finish your homework?” try, “What are your plans for finishing your homework?” 

If your child hasn’t completed his homework, he can save face by focusing on a plan of action rather than inventing a story.

Celebrate mistakes. 

Think of mistakes as a way to learn to make better choices in the future. If kids know that you won’t be angry or disappointed when they mess up, they’ll be more likely to share honestly. 

To respond, simply say something like, ” If you could have a do-over, what would you do differently?” If your child’s actions negatively affected his sibling or friend, ask what needs to be done to “make it right or how can you make him feel better 

Watch your white lies. 

Remember that young ears and eyes are always tuned in. Whether you’re failing to correct the barista who gives you too much change or making up a story about why you haven’t finished the assignment at the office yet. Or saying something like I am already in the car while ur still dressing up. remember your actions set the example for acceptable behaviour.

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This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Ruchie

    I agree the reasons you have shared even I agree many times they lie to seek attention!! Great post for every parent!!

  2. Alpana Deo

    you touched upon a very important topic. Kids lie at some point of time. Even a young kid also know how to save themselves if there are any chances of getting scolded. Maintaining an eye contact is very important and getting down to their level-mentally and physically.

    1. Dr. Rahat Sayyad

      Thats such a good point there. Definitely comes from experience 😊

  3. Dr. Surbhi Prapanna

    I really like the advice of ignoring tiny matters and I personally do that because sometimes paying over attention to minor things creates unnecessary stress and disturb the house environment. But yes for serious reasons it is very important to tackle it with maturity . Making a positive and effective communication with your kids always work wonder in dealing with various parenting issues.

  4. anurbannomadic

    This is one of the most comprehensive and actionable clear guidlines I have read on the topic. Very useful. I have taken some notes infact

    1. Dr. Rahat Sayyad

      😅😅😅 Thats so so nice to know and so motivating at the same time.

  5. Sweetannu

    Being a preschool teacher I can see through some of the kids when they would lie. And the pointers you mentioned were exactly the reasons why. Great post…

  6. sonam jain

    I have a son and you have given some great tips which is definently going to help me in future.. thanks for sharing

  7. Cindy Dsilva

    Yes I have realized that suddenly at 8 my daughter has begun lying. Sometimes she’s aware of it and sometimes it’s her imagination that has become real for her. Talking to them about it definitely helps.

    1. Dr. Rahat Sayyad

      Yes imagination is one important cause of making up things. And like you rightly elucidated talking about it can help us differentiate it well.

  8. Varsh

    Kids resort to lying without realising how wrong it is and you’ve so correctly mentioned the reasons behind it. Good tips on how to deal with it since their innocence helps them understand easily.

    1. Dr. Rahat Sayyad

      Yes their innocence also helps us believe them easily 😅

  9. Metamorphosis

    You have touched upon every point and I agree with all of them. Some times we need to learn to ignore if it’s harmless and sometimes it’s important to address and resolve them. Once it becomes a permanent habit.. It will become part of their attitude and then we will have no control over them.

    1. Dr. Rahat Sayyad

      True we need to take care that lying doesn’t become a habit

  10. This was a very interesting read indeed lying is not black and white with something which is so multifold and the way that you have looked it in broken it down really makes it is easy to figure out what is going on and how we can help the kids

  11. LifeCoachPreet

    I totally second the toughts shared by you here. It’s important to understand the underlying cause of the lying habit. Once that is done it’s easier to help a child right in time.

  12. mummatalks

    While my son dsnt lie as yet, he is 4, my daughter has refraining frm telling the truth for the simple fear of being punished n I always tell her ” tell me wht really happened mumma will not get angry of scold you” and she tells the truth immediately. So I know that 1. Facing them and asking n 2. Taking out the fear of punishment is imp to help our kids frm not telling the truth.

    1. Dr. Rahat Sayyad

      Absolutely correct and that’s a lovely way to approach lying. Also if not punishing at the time when they lie will send out an even stronger message that mumma doesn’t punish when something goes wrong. And then you won’t need to say it

  13. Snigdha

    Again a very important topic to discuss. I have a son and your pointers are helpful for me to observe him .

  14. Harjeet Kaur

    Very relevant points listed out here. Kids do lie and there is always a reason behind that. Parents should have a pulse on their kids and weed them out if they are lying.

    1. Dr. Rahat Sayyad

      True. Knowing the reason why our kids are lying can sort things out easily

  15. Gleefulblogger

    This is the topic which is very touching in every child and parents life we have to see beyond the gambit of truth and lies it’s about the age and the reasons as you clearly mentioned we sometimes have to see beyond the model guideline and understand the need of speaking lies.

    1. Dr. Rahat Sayyad

      Absolutely. Its not always about what they lied for, but rather why did they resort to lying when they could have come to us with the truth. Looks like we are also at fault and somewhere responsible for encouraging this behavior in our kids unknowingly

  16. Kinshoo Agrawal

    You have highlighted a very important and common problem. I am trying to explain the same thing to my son.. you don’t need to please everyone. Going to bookmark your post.

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