It is normal for children (and adults) to lie from time to time, and little dishonesty should not be the reason for concern. However, when lying becomes a habit, it may become a big problem. One major concern is that if your child has a history of lying, you may not believe them when they speak the truth. Teaching your child, the virtue of speaking the truth instills personal responsibility, trust, and concern.

Beginning in preschool, children learn to utilize lying for a range of prosocial and covert goals, with growing complexity as they get older. Lying may become a dangerous habit when children perceive lying as an efficient strategy to avoid difficulties or avoid responsibilities. So, if your child speaks a falsehood, confront it directly and discourage it from happening again.

Make Telling the Truth a Household Rule

As part of your family’s norms and values, establish a unique house rule emphasizing the need for honesty and truthful communication. This will show your children that you value the truth, even if it is tough to tell.

Honesty as a role model

Model the conduct you want to see in your child, which includes always speaking the truth. Kids can’t tell the difference between “little white lies” and other types of lying. So, don’t lie about your child’s age to obtain a lower-priced meal at a restaurant, and don’t pretend to be sick to get out of a social engagement you don’t want to attend. Your youngster will mimic what they see you do.

Discuss Telling the Truth vs. Lying

It is critical to explain the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie to your child, regardless of his or her age. Be mindful, however, that tiny children will not completely comprehend the difference between lies and truth until they are about the age of four.

It’s crucial to distinguish between stating the truth and being brutally honest.

Children must understand that just saying, “That’s awful clothing,” or “You have pimples,” is not enough. Balancing honesty and compassion are complicated social skills that you should strive to instill in your students as early as possible.

Determine the Cause of the Lie

Fantasy, boasting, and avoiding negative consequences are the three primary reasons why children lie. When you identify the most likely cause of the lie, you may build a strategy for dealing with it.


Preschoolers are prone to telling imaginary falsehoods. If your youngster claims, “I traveled to the moon last night,” inquire, “Is that true?” Or is it something you wish were true?” This can help youngsters distinguish between truth and fiction. However, if your youngster is only pretending, it is OK to partake in fantasy as long as everyone is aware that it is fiction rather than truth.


If a youngster lies to boast, it might be because they have poor self-esteem or want to attract attention. They may benefit from acquiring new social skills as well as participating in positive activities to increase their self-esteem.

Avoiding Responsibility

Many children lie to get out of trouble. It is critical that their deceptions fail. Instead, tell your children that you will be double-checking the facts.


Additionally, children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to lie. The frequent ADHD characteristics of forgetfulness, impulsivity, and disorganization can lead to a proclivity for dishonesty, which is sometimes exacerbated by misconceptions.

For example, if you ask a youngster to put up their toys and they don’t, they may say that you never requested them to do so. This may not be a lie; they may have just forgotten about your directive.6

Give a Warning

When you are quite certain you have caught a child lying, offer them one warning. 3 For example, gently remark, “I’ll give you one more chance to tell me the truth.” If I discover you lying, you will face further consequences.”

It’s also a good idea to underline the consequences of dishonesty. However, instead of condemning or shaming your child, focus on teaching accountability and honesty. Maintaining a calm and caring tone is also beneficial. Your youngster will feel less comfortable coming clean if you are angry, screaming, or threatening.

Provide an Additional Consequence

When you discover your child lying, give them an extra punishment. Instead of just taking away their gadgets for the day, assign them additional duties. Take away privileges and/or utilize restitution as a punishment for lying.

Discuss Natural Consequences

Discuss the natural repercussions of lying with your child. Explain that dishonesty makes it difficult to believe them the following time, even if they are speaking the truth. People who are known to tell falsehoods are not liked or trusted by others.

Reinforce Honesty

Recognize and reward your youngster when he or she tells the truth. “I know it must have been difficult to tell me that you broke that dish, but I’m so pleased you decided to be honest about it,” praise them.

Assist Your Child in Regaining Trust

If your child has a propensity for lying, devise a strategy to help them regain trust. Create a behavior contract, for example, that ties increased rights to honesty. They’ll be one step closer to regaining additional rights if they speak the truth.

Seek Professional Assistance

Lying may become a significant problem for youngsters at times. If your child’s lying becomes pathological, or if it causes issues at school or with classmates, get professional help to resolve it.



Article by

Rose .A. Milani,

Parent Coach and Registered Mental Health Counsellor

Based in Melbourne, Australia


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