What To Do When My Children Lie


At age 3, children begin to discover new emotions while developing language and social skills. Around this same age, consequently, children learn how to lie.


The truth is that lying is more common in children than we might think. There are many reasons for this behavior, and not all of them necessarily come from a bad place. Sometimes children lie to avoid hurting other people’s feelings, and sometimes they lie because the line between fantasy and reality is thin for the younger ones, among other reasons.


As parents, there are many strategies we can try to avoid this situation and promote honesty in our children. 

Why Do Children Lie?

By now, we can all agree that lying often has many consequences, especially emotional ones. But children don’t mean to hurt or hide anything particularly bad. When children lie, it can be for more than one reason: 

  • Cover Up A Mistake: Children lie to stay out of trouble for something they have done. In retrospect, these situations are usually innocent pranks or even situations where kids think adults will overreact but can generally be fixed with a little talk. But be careful and take real action if your kids lie about something more important, like being mean to schoolmates or confrontations between siblings.

  • Make A Story More Exciting: Children may add exaggerated details or facts to their stories that are usually lies to make their storytelling more exciting. This may also mean that they are trying to get more attention.

  • Avoid Hurting Other’s Feelings: Children start to tell what we call “white lies,” which parents can sometimes even encourage. For example: “Please tell your grandma that you loved the t-shirt she gave you so she won’t feel bad”, even when the child might not like the gift. These types of lies become more common in their teenage years. 

How To Help My Children To Stop Lying

Of course, there are different types of lies. Some of them are just innocent white lies, and others might tell you there’s something more serious that needs to be done. The most important thing to do is to encourage honesty in our children. There are many strategies that we can put into practice: 

  • Build Safe Spaces: Let your children know that you can be their confidant, and they can always talk to you about anything. This trust will help them avoid lying because they won’t need to do it. 

  • Talk About Your Feelings: Be honest and show them that lying can be very hurtful if you are on the other side. 

  • Praise Your Children: When something bad happens or they make a mistake, praise them if they have told you the truth. Show them that the best thing they can do is to open up and ask for help to solve the problem, no matter how big it may seem. 

  • Be A Role Model: Be open with them and always tell the truth. Some things may be hard to say or even provoke anger or sadness, but the best thing we can do is to set a good example for our children and find the right way to be open with them. 

Toley Ranz believes that honesty and truth are the cornerstones of raising healthy children. Together, we can create a better, more honest world for generations to come.

Copyright © by Anke Otto-Wolf - 2021 All Rights Reserved