Lying Children: The Best Way To Promote Honesty (Part 1)

Pinocchio-Liar-LiarMy child is 5 and has started to lie. Honesty is very important to me! I have caught him many times lying, sometimes about the silliest things. How can I stop him from doing this?

It can be disconcerting when a child lies. I know that I immediately envision a life of crime for my child. However, knowing what I know about child development, I don’t need to worry. I can rest easy. Lying is a common problem among all children. Most experts agree that lying is a pretty typical childhood behavior and is usually a passing phase.

Children will start lying at age around age 3. But why do they do it? The reasons children lie get more complex as children grow older. Lying is generally a strategy that children use to keep them afloat in some way.

So, why do children lie? Here are the 4 reasons that keep kids from being honest:

1. Children lie to avoid punishment:

Kids get scared when they have done something wrong. They know that they may get punished. They will do anything to avoid receiving a consequence. So they lie. They tell you that they were not the one who broke the vase or that they didn’t have any homework due that day.

2. Children lie to avoid embarrassment:

Most kids do not like to feel ashamed. It is an awful feeling. When they have done something wrong, they will do anything not to feel humiliated. They would rather save face then tell the truth. They may tell you that they lost their coat that they hate so they will not have to wear it and risk getting made fun of by their peers.

3. Children lie because it is convenient:

Kids would rather continue to play with their blocks or watch TV than get up and brush their teeth. So they lie about their lack of hygiene. They tell you they have already done it. They also lie about homework just to get out of doing something they don’t want to do.

4. They want it to be that way:

Lying for kids is a form of wishful thinking. They confuse reality and their inner fantasy world. They like to make their lives sound more exciting and they will exaggerate.

Now that we understand why our kids lie we will be in a better position to help them be honest. In our next post we will discuss ways to manage your child’s lying and help him stop.

Adina Soclof works as a Parent Educator for Bellefaire Jewish Children’s Bureau facilitating “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk” workshops.