How to Deal with Lying in Children and Teens

by Janet Lehman, MSW
How to Deal with Lying in Children and Teens

When you catch your child in a lie, it’s natural to feel betrayed, hurt, angry and frustrated. But here’s the truth: lying is normal. It's wrong, but it's normal. In fact, we all do it to some degree. Consider how adults use lies in their daily lives: When we’re stopped for speeding, we often minimize what we’ve done wrong, if not out–and–out lie about it. Why? We’re hoping to get out of something, even if we know better.

I believe that with kids, lying is a faulty problem–solving skill. It’s our job as parents to teach our children how to solve those problems in more constructive ways. Here are a few of the reasons why kids lie. (Later, I’ll explain how to handle it when they do.)

Related: What to do when your child lies.

Why Kids Lie

To establish identity: One of the ways kids use lying is to establish an identity and to connect with peers, even if that identity is false. Lying can also be a response to peer pressure. Your child might be lying to his peers about things he says he’s done that he really hasn’t to make him sound more impressive.

To individuate from parents: Sometimes teens use lying to keep parts of their lives separate from their parents. At times it may even seem that they make up small lies about things that don’t even seem terribly important. Another reason children lie is when they perceive the house rules and restrictions to be too tight. So let’s say you have a 16–year–old who isn’t allowed to wear makeup, but all her friends are wearing it. So she wears it outside the house, then lies to you about it. Lying may become a way for her to have you believe she’s following your rules and still do “normal” teen activities.

To get attention: When your child is little and the lies are inconsequential, this behavior may just be his way of getting a little attention. When a small child says, “Mommy, I just saw Santa fly by the window,” I think it is very different from an older child who says, “I finished my homework,” when he really didn’t. Younger children also make up stories during imaginative play, or playing “make believe.” This is not lying but a way for them to engage their imaginations and start to make sense of the world around them.

Related: Attention-seeking child? How to "stop the show" and parent him/her effectively.

To avoid hurting other’s feelings: At some point, most people learn how to minimize things in order not to hurt other people’s feelings. Instead of saying, “I love your new shoes,” we might say, “Those shoes are really trendy right now.” But kids don’t have the same sophistication that adults do, so it’s often easier for them to lie. I think as adults, we learn how to say things more carefully; we all know how to minimize hurt. But kids don’t know how to do that. Lying is a first step toward learning how to say something more carefully. In some ways, we teach them how to lie when we say, “Tell Grandma you like the present even if you don’t, because it will hurt her feelings otherwise.” We have a justifiable reason—we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings who’s gone out of their way for us—but we are still teaching our kids how to bend the truth.

To avoid trouble: Most kids lie at one time or another to get out of trouble. Let’s say they’ve gotten themselves into a jam because they did something they shouldn’t have done. Maybe they broke a rule or they didn’t do something they were supposed to do, like their chores. If they don’t have another way out, rather than suffer the consequences, they lie to avoid getting into trouble.

Again, in my opinion, the overall reason why kids lie is because they don’t have another way of dealing with a problem or conflict. In fact, sometimes it’s the only way they know how to solve a problem; it’s almost like a faulty survival skill for kids.

I believe it’s really the parent’s job to differentiate the type of lie their child has told, and to make sure that it isn’t connected to unsafe, illegal or risky behavior. This gets to the whole point about picking your battles. If you see your child say to another child, “Oh I really like that dress,” and they later tell you in the car, “I really don’t like that dress,” you might say something to them, but you might also let it go, especially if this is unusual for your child. If they’re lying about something that’s risky or illegal or really unsafe, you definitely have to address it. And if it’s to the point of being really significant—like a lie about risky sexual behavior, drugs, or other harmful activities—you may need to seek some help from a professional.

Related: How to communicate with your defiant child.

So pick your battles. Decipher what’s really important versus looking at what’s normal. And again, that often depends on the developmental age of your child. A four–year–old is going to make up big whopping stories as a way to be creative and begin to figure out their world. It’s a normal developmental stage. Seven– and eight–year–olds are going to do some of that as well, but they may have more black and white thinking. So they might say, “I hated that lady” when they simply disliked something that person did. I think you can let those kinds of things slide or just gently correct your child. You can say something like, “Do you mean you didn’t like what she did yesterday?” This type of stretching of the truth is really the result of concrete thinking because kids in this age group don’t have good skills to say something else more neutral or tactful.

I don’t believe lying in children is a moral issue. I think it’s imperative not to take it personally if your child lies. Most kids don’t lie to hurt their parents; they lie because there’s something else going on.  The important part for you as a parent is to address the behavior behind the lie. If you’re taking it personally, you’re probably angry and upset—and not dealing with the more specific information concerning the behavior.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your child didn’t do his homework but he told you he did. When you find out that he’s lying, he admits he didn’t do it because he was playing sports with friends after school. If you yell at your child about being betrayed and say, “How dare you lie to me,” that’s all you’re going to be able to address. You’re not going to be able to deal with the real  issue of your child needing to do his homework before he plays sports. The bottom line is that your anger and frustration about the lie is not going to help your child change his behavior.

Related: How to give consequences that will work with your child.

So lying is not a moral issue; it’s a problem–solving issue, a lack of skill issue, and an avoiding consequence issue.  Often kids know right from wrong—in fact, that’s why they’re lying. They don’t want to get in trouble for what they’ve done and they’re using lying to solve their problems. What that means is that they need better skills, and you can respond as a parent by helping them work on their ability to problem solve.

How to Address Lying: Staging a “Lying Intervention”

While it’s important to address the behavior behind the lying, if your child lies chronically or lies about unsafe, risky or unhealthy behavior, I think it makes sense to address the actual lying by having an intervention. A “lying intervention” is really just a planned and structured conversation about the lying behavior.  This lets your child know what you’ve been seeing, and gives you a chance to tell them that you are concerned. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Plan ahead of time: Think about how you’re going to intervene beforehand. Plan it out ahead of time with your spouse; if you’re single, ask another close adult family member to be there with you. When this issue came up with our son, my husband James and I planned out what we were going to say, how we were going to react emotionally, and even where we were going to sit. We decided we were going to be neutral and that we would be as unemotional as possible. We made a decision about what the problem behaviors we wanted to address were. We also decided what the consequences for our son’s behavior would be. We did almost all of this ahead of time.

Don’t lecture: When you catch your child lying, remember that lecturing is not going to be helpful. Kids just tune that out. They’ve heard it over and over—and when you start lecturing, the kids are gone. They’re no longer listening and nothing changes. So what you need to do instead is to identify what it is that you’re seeing and what you’re concerned about.

Related: How to stop the family anxiety cycle.

Be specific and talk about what’s obvious: When you’re talking with your child, be specific about what you saw and what the problems are. You can state calmly and in a matter of fact way, “If the lying about homework continues, this will be the consequence.” Or “It’s obvious you snuck out last night. There will be a consequence for that behavior.” Remember, it has to be a consequence that you can actually deliver on and are willing to follow through with.

Don’t be too complicated in your message: Keep it very focused and simple for your child; concentrate on the behavior. And then tell him that you want to hear what was happening that made him feel he needed to lie. (You are not looking for an excuse for the lie, but rather to identify the problem your child was having that they used lying to solve.) Be direct and specific. The intervention itself would be quick and to–the–point; you don’t want to lecture your child for a long time. This is just ineffective.

Keep the door open: Because the lie is most likely a way your child is trying to problem solve, make sure you indicate that you want to hear what’s going on with him. He may not be ready to talk with you about it the first time you raise the subject—and this is where the neutrality on the parent’s part comes in. You want to be open to hearing what your child or teen’s problem is. You want to create a safe environment for him to tell you during that intervention or that first conversation. But if your child is not ready, it’s important to keep that door open. Create this environment by being neutral and not attacking him.

Related: Arguing with your spouse about parenting issues? How to get on the same page.

If You Catch Your Child in a Lie…

If you catch your child in a problematic lie, I recommend that you not react in the moment. Instead, send him to his room so you can calm down. Talk with your spouse or a trusted friend or family member and come up with a game plan. Allow yourself time to think about it. Remember, when you respond without thinking, you’re not going to be effective. So give yourself a little time to plan this out.

When you do talk, don’t argue with your child about the lie. Just state what you saw, and what is obvious. You may not know the reason behind it, but eventually your child might fill you in on it. Again, simply state the behaviors that you saw.

So the conversation would go something like, “I got a call from the neighbor; they saw you sneaking out of your window. You were falling asleep at the kitchen table this morning at breakfast. But you told us that you were home all night.”And you might then say to your teen, “There’s going to be a consequence for that. You’re not going to be able to stay over at your friend’s house next weekend. And we’re concerned about where you went.” Leave the door open for him to tell you what happened.

Related: How to stay calm when your child pushes your buttons.

Remember, state what you believe based on the facts you have. Do it without arguing, just say it matter–of–factly. “We have this information, we believe it to be true and these are the consequences.”Keep it very simple and hear what your child has to say, but be really firm in what you believe.

A Word about “Magical Thinking

Be aware that kids and adolescents are prone to engage in “magical thinking.” This means that when your child gets away with a few lies, he will start thinking he should be able to get away with them the next time. Often that just feeds on itself, and the lies become more and more abundant—and absurd. Your child might convince himself they’re true in order to get out of the trouble. I also think kids often don’t want to believe they’re lying; no one really wants to be a liar.

So you’ll see kids who’ve gotten caught smoking at school say, “No, I wasn’t smoking”—even though the smoke is still in the air. And when you’re a kid, you think that if you keep repeating the same thing over and over again, it will be true. But it’s your job as a parent to say as matter–of–factly as possible what you feel is the truth. Acknowledge the lie, but give the consequence for the behavior, not for the lie.

Realize that most kids are not going to lie forever and ever. There is a very small percentage of kids who lie chronically. That’s more difficult for parents to deal with, and it requires professional help. In all my years in working with adolescents, there were very, very few kids that I met who lied chronically for no reason. Usually, kids don’t lie arbitrarily; they have a reason for doing so, no matter how faulty that reason might be. Your child really does know right from wrong, but sometimes he overrides the truth.

Related: How to play the three most important roles in parenting: Coach, Teacher and Limit Setter.

I’m a parent too, and I understand that it’s hard not to take that personally or be disappointed. But just remember, your child is trying to solve a problem in an ineffective way. Our job is to teach them how to face their problems head on, and to coach them through these confusing years. Over time, I believe they will learn to do that without lying.

 


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Janet Lehman, MSW has worked with troubled children and teens for over 30 years and is the co-creator of The Total Transformation Program. She is a social worker who has held a variety of positions during her career, including juvenile probation officer, case manager, therapist and program director for 22 years in traditional residential care and in group homes for difficult children.

READER'S COMMENTS

When my daughter was old enough to know what a lie is (about age 4), I explained that she would never get in trouble for telling me the truth. While there might be natural consequences (cleaning up a mess, apologizing, replacing a broken item), the serious consequences were for lying to cover up a misdeed. She is now 14 and feels safe to talk to me about everything and anything (sexuality, peer problems, depression). She was once caught forging my signature on a test at school and when confronted by her teacher immediately told the truth; the teacher was impressed with her honesty and adopted our house rule so while she had to tell me about it and have me sign the test, there were no other punishments. When parents get upset upon being told the truth, it motivates the child to lie. I agree with this article and would add that parents should examine whether their reactions to hearing the truth are part of the dynamic.

Comment By : Quizzical

This article is fantastic. As a parent working through the fallout of an unfortunately adversarial divorce, where children were involved in messaging and some pretty heavy manipulation, this same steady approach is winning out. Thanks for providing the perspective to foster the patient, firm, parenting required.

Comment By : Trilobyte69

I couldn't have gotten this newsletter at a better time. I've been struggling with my 10 year old lying both at home and in school for the last week. I intend on using these tools to hopefully solve the issues. Thank you.

Comment By : distressed!

I have a 22 year old daughter that lies constantly. Don't want to work. Loves money though. I get so mad that I feel like I am going to have a heart attack from her lying to me. How do I approach that?

Comment By : MAD

Excellent article. I actually caught my 11 year old in a fib yesterday. I wish Ihad read this article prior.

Comment By : mildred

Excellent and in depth for both sides of this issue, parent and child. This writer used good process in the different aspects involved and the sound psychology behind it.

Comment By : Jena

I was with you all the way until I got to the part that said, "...give the consequence for the behavior, not for the lie." Lying can and does become a bad habit and thus should be addressed with consequences as much as the behavior, if not more so.

Comment By : RIMom

We tried all the above and more with my 14 yr old daughter. It drives me crazy because she has even found a way to manipulate the situation and she lies about why she lies.. Feel sorry for me because of lies lies lies... Being honest myself, it is extremely hard not to take that personal! I want to be close to her and have her know that I am here for her. We have so many people from mentors to pastors to principals and counselors to peers her own age trying to help but everyone says the same thing.. She is manipulative.. What to do?

Comment By : at her wits end

You truly capture the way to handle a lying child/person. I really like the compassion and 'matteroffact' way you present your work. Thank you.

Comment By : NanC

This was timely and helpful to read. I know the reasons for my son's lying - to avoid trouble. I did need to be reminded to "pick my battles". I try to explain and reason thing with my children, to a fault at times. My concern is that white lies will grow to be bigger lies, to the point of not trusting my child. I already have an older step-son whom I question his honesty and don't believe he tells the truth.

Comment By : gloryb

Wish I had this knowledge when my sons were young. I will pass it on, hoping that they will heed the excellent insight and suggestions for their own children!

Comment By : MAV

* Dear ‘MAD’: James Lehman wrote an excellent series of articles discussing the techniques to use for living with older children. He said it’s not too late to set house rules. He gives specific instructions on how to discuss your rules with your older child and how to use consequences. For example, he teaches you how to require your child to leave home each morning with a lunch, a cell phone and the want ads. Refer to these 3 articles written by James Lehman: Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part I; Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part II: In Response to Questions about Older Children Living at Home; Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part III: Is It Ever Too Late to Set up a Living Agreement? .

Comment By : Carole Banks, MSW, Parental Support Line Advisor

thank you so much for sharing this information. It has being one of the most difficult problems that my husband and I have encountered as parents. I feel better prepared to deal with my kids in this area now. Thank you again

Comment By : Tina

* Dear ‘at her wits end’: James Lehman writes, “Kids manipulate their parents. It’s part of their normal routine. They learn to use their charms and strengths to get their way and negotiate more power in the family.” Some manipulation from kids is acceptable. The challenge is to not allow our kids to avoid their responsibilities by using bribes, blaming others, or to assume their parents will fix any problem that comes up. It’s great that you recognize when you’re taking your daughter’s behavior too personal. It’s certainly natural to get upset when you have been manipulated. And it’s best to pause and gather your thoughts for a few minutes, to allow your feelings to moderate. This will keep you from over-reacting emotionally and punitively toward your child. Of course it’s important to ‘role model’ how to behave appropriately, such as being careful to ‘mean what you say’ and not break promises. Decide that from now on you will not allow her to manipulate you any longer. It takes two for a manipulation to occur. Another person must believe the falsehoods or choose to give in because they feel worn down. As James Lehman says, “When you don’t give in to your child, they have to figure out another way to solve their problem.”

Comment By : Carole Banks, MSW, Parental Support Line Advisor

* Dear ‘RIMom’: You’re right when you say that lying can become a bad habit. Some kids get themselves stuck in this ‘problem solving’ technique and have an almost knee-jerk response to trouble—using denial as their first response. In this unique situation, some parents have helped their kids change this habitual behavior by telling them if they come back to the parent shortly after lying and say, “I’d like to change my answer”, then they won’t receive a consequence for lying. Habits take awhile to change, so expect that this will take quite a bit of practice. If the child corrects the lie, give consequences only for the behavior. You can choose to give a consequence when your kid lies; however you run the risk of putting too much attention on lying. Many times consequences for lying come out of a parent taking the lie too personal--feeling ‘betrayed’ or ‘disrespected’. But a lie is not ‘about the parent’. It’s a kid’s way to try to solve the problem of being in trouble. The behavior the child is lying about should be your main focus for consequences.

Comment By : Carole Banks, MSW, Parental Support Line Advisor

This article is very helpful to me. It reminds me to calm down whenever my 16-yr old boy give me lies after lies. Thanks for sharing this.

Comment By : jac

I notice RImom takes issue with "...give the consequence for the behavior, not for the lie." My suggestion: Consider catching your spouse lying about having an affair. Which should be addressed- the lying, or the affair?

Comment By : Reginald

My son, who was adopted at a very young age, has lied and stolen too many times to count. He is 9 years old now. We have tried all the strategies listed in this article as well as advice from other professionals. I am beginning to wonder if these behaviors will ever change because he doesn't seem to understand the seriousness of it. Also, could there be a biological tendency toward this type of behavior?

Comment By : Mom 4 all seasons

I like using the phrase, " A yucky-truth is better than a lie." It seems to make sense to my kids and helps keep that line of communication open. I know we all want to make sure our kids can trust us and tell us ANYTHING no matter how small it may seem, especially when they make poor choices.

Comment By : Mom of Three

very good advice however i have a teen who lies about everything and makes up terrible stories we are so worried all the time. consequences,calm discussion,ranting,forgiving nothing changes. can she have deep psycological disorder?

Comment By : parent52

* Dear 'parent52': Lying in and of itself is not an indication of a psychological disorder in a person. Everyone lies at some point in their lives. In order to know whether or not your daughter is struggling with a psychological disorder she needs to be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional. Any evaluation should begin at the pediatrician’s office to rule out underlying medical conditions that could contribute to behavior problems.

Comment By : Carole Banks, MSW, Parental Support Line Advisor

I love this article! My daughters father and I are not together and are both married to other people. We do try to stay on the same page on most issues and lying is one of them. He caught her in a lie last night about getting in trouble at school over something minor. The problem isnt' that she got repremanded at school, it was that she lied about it and tried to hide it from us. I understand WHY she lied because she didn't want to disappoint us with the news about getting in trouble, but that's not the point. I will try to use this article to help me confront the situation if it ever arises, which I'm sure it will. It's heartbreaking to be lied to, especially by your own child, but being a good example and teaching them to handle situations in a more constructive manner can stop the problem!

Comment By : momsquared

* Dear ‘Mom 4 all seasons’: Lying and stealing can be frustrating behaviors for parents to deal with. While all kids lie at some time or another, not all kids steal—but stealing can be a very common behavior in younger children. And not all adopted kids steal, but for some adopted kids who do steal, they’re stealing for emotional reasons. Some develop a belief that no one else can meet their needs. Some feel too vulnerable when asking for help and steal instead. Stealing can help these kids feel more in control of their environment and resources. On the Parental Support Line for the Total Transformation Program, we get calls from parents of adoptive or foster children telling us their child is taking candy, food, or other things that can help them feel safe and putting these things in their rooms. We recommend to these families that they work with a professional counselor. Since you have been addressing these behaviors without success, you might look into getting some additional support. Consider having your son work through any emotional issues he may have with a mental health professional that specializes in working with adoptive or foster children. Begin by sharing your concerns with your child’s pediatrician and asking for a referral. We hope this was helpful and wish your family the best.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

I have a child with pdd nos. I can honestly say I have never caught him lying. He has a twitch that he does when he has done wrong. If I ask him david did you do it he will say no than that means no. If I say david did you do it and he cringes and makes a ohhhh sound he did it. He talks very well and has REALLY taken off in the last few years but for the first time... He did it...He lied and it was a dangerous lie very well thought out like a little mastermind. I had to call the poliece because he said he was very afraid for his life because a kid at school said he would shoot him. The principal didnt believe him and I got angry and said but you dont understand he has never lied to me. I hounded him when he got home from school on details on who said what where he was ect. Finally after all night of this he broke. He admited that the kid said he didnt like him and that noone liked him so he just wanted to hurt him back. I was FLOORED. I have known this kid for all his life since hes mine. I wasnt aware he could do this. My husband and I are wondering what to do. He asked if I was mad or hated him and I said no Im dissipointed that you made that choice. I explained to him the boy who cried wolf slowly and told him how dissipointed I was he didnt come to me to talk to me about his problems with his classmates. I told him nothing you can talk to me about will suprise me and I told him about a time I lied when I was his age to get a teacher in trouble. BOY did I get it back then. Im afraid If I tell the school I did finally get it out of him after I called the cops and he lied to them there could be serious reprocussions. What would you do if your son was slow but was still able to muster this trouble up. I know there must be a consiquence but what?

Comment By : Lee

* Dear Lee: It sounds like you acted very reasonably to protect your son. As far as you knew, he was not capable of fantasy because of his PDD. And you did well helping him to understand that it’s not okay to say things like this about other people. To demonstrate to your son your family values regarding telling something false about another and for the sake of the boy who was accused, you or your husband should tell the school officials and the police that it is not true that a boy threatened to shoot your son. If your son could write, or say he is sorry to this boy that would seem like a reasonable conclusion to this incident.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

Wondering what i can do about my 10 year old daughter.She lies every single day at home and at school.About any and everything.I keep telling her that one day the lies are gonna catch up to her.I tell her that she's gonna really want someone to belive something that's true one day and no one's gonna believe her because she lies so much.It makes me angry,and disappointed when she lies to me.I'm just so tired of catching her in lies day after day....

Comment By : tiredofbeingliedto.....

* To ‘tiredofbeingliedto.....’: Lying is one of the things parents find to be most frustrating. It is very normal to feel angry and disappointed. It is important, however, to keep the behavior in perspective. James Lehman felt that children tell lies as a way to solve their problems—to try to avoid getting in trouble, for example. When your daughter lies, talk about it later when things are calm. Ask her what her reason was for telling you x when the truth is y. Let her know her reason doesn’t justify her behavior and then talk about what she can do differently next time to be more honest. Keep in mind it’s very, very important to deal with lying in a very calm, businesslike way, and to approach it as a problem solving issue rather than a moral issue. Despite your efforts to teach your daughter solid moral values, her sense of morality is still quite undeveloped at this age. Also, have a standard consequence for lying that you use every time. Based on your report of how often she lies, I would suggest the loss of a privilege for 2 hours. Keep it short and simple. In case you haven’t seen it already, I am including a link to one of our other articles about lying: Why Kids Tell Lies And What To Do About It. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this.

Comment By : Sara A. Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

Hello I need help I have a 12 year old that lies about everything I have tried everything that the article said I should and she still continues to lie to the point that I have to prove to her that she is lying and she does not care if anyone gets in trouble for her lie I am afraid that one day someone will be in trouble for the lie that she told I have punished her for lying and not punished her when she has told the truth. I NEED HELP

Comment By : Rculbreath

* To ‘Rculbreath’: Lying is one of the most infuriating and frustrating things for a parent to deal with. It’s hurtful and aggravating. Be sure that you are consistent. Deal with lying calmly and as a problem solving issue every time rather than a moral issue. Have discussions about what your daughter was thinking when she lied or what she was trying to accomplish and continue to talk about what she can do differently in the future. And, continue to use a standard consequence for lying. Every time she lies she loses x privilege for y hours. Remember that children need lots and lots of repetition to learn new behaviors. Lying has become a habit and we all know how hard it is to break a habit. Stick with it or find a local support person to check in with, such as the school counselor or another therapist or counselor. We wish you the best. Take care.

Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

HOW CAN I GET MY 14 YEAR OLD TO TELL ME THE TRUTH WITHOUT FISHING IT OUT OF HER? SHE KEEPS LYING TO ME WHEN SHE GOES TO SCHOOL FOOTBALL GAMES AND PARTIES. I KNOW SHE HAS INTEREST IN THIS 17 YEAR OLD AS HE HAS INTEREST IN HER. BUT THE 17 YR.OLD BOY HAS SEXUAL INTENTIONS? HOW CAN I GET HER TO HAVE OPEN COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME? IF I ASK HER, SHE WILL LIE TO MY FACE; BUT WHEN I PROVE IT TO HER FACE SHE BOWS DOWN HER HEAD IN SHAME AND THEN ADMITS TO IT. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? SHE KNOWS THIS BOY IS A PLAYER AND STILL LIKES THIS GUY FOR SOME REASON. I KEEP TELLING HER TO STAY FOCUS IN HER EDUCATION AND KEEP YOUR FRIENDS TO A MINIMUM. THE MAJORITY OF HER FRIENDS ARE BAD INFLUENCES. THIS GUY SWEARS HE IS ALL THAT AND I JUST DON'T SEE IT. PLEASE HELP ME HERE. I DON'T KNOW WHAT MORE I CAN DO TO ENFORCE THE BOUNDARIES. I HAVE STOPPED ALL PAYMENTS TO HER CELL PHONE, SHE IS NOT ALLOW TO GO TO ANY HS FOOTBALL GAMES UNLESS WITH ME OR HER FATHER, NO ACCESS TO COMPUTER OR PHONE. I RATHER TAKE AWAY, THAN TO BE PHYSICAL. WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN HITTING. HELP!

Comment By : HEATED!

* Hi 'Heated': It sounds as if you are having a difficult time with your 14 year old. It can be very frustrating and disappointing when your child lies to you. It sounds as though you are having a difficult time trusting her, and that she’s doing what she says she is. In these kinds of situations, we find it is more effective to provide some limits around how and when she spends time with her friends rather than to forbid her to see certain people. As you have noticed, this does not make her any less likely to spend time with her friends. I see that she is not allowed to go to football games unless she has a parent with her-that’s a great step! You may want to continue with this; for example, instead of forbidding contact with friends, have her invite one over for an afternoon where you can supervise. It can also be helpful to have her gradually start earning back privileges with better behavior; this way, you have more to work with in terms of consequences and your daughter has an incentive to make more effective choices. We find that when kids have everything taken away, many give up on better behavior, thinking “Why should I try? What else do I have to lose?” I am attaching some articles you might find helpful: Risky Teen Behavior: Can You Trust Your Child Again? and Does Your Child Have "Toxic" Friends? 6 Ways to Deal with the Wrong Crowd. Good luck to you and your family as you continue to work through this

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

hi, i have a 9 years old daughter and today i found out that she hided from me her repport card that she got it 2 weeks ago, that's le first time she behave like that, for me she lied to me when she act like that, i don t know how to deal whit her, i need some help.

Comment By : comment by : LA02

* To 'LA02': It sounds like you are feeling pretty hurt and betrayed by your daughter’s actions. It is normal for kids to hide something that they feel uncomfortable or nervous about, such as her report card. This doesn’t mean she is a bad person; simply, it means that she does not know a better way to deal with those feelings. Since this is the first time she has done this, we recommend doing some problem solving with her. When you are calm, ask her, “What were you thinking when you decided to hide your report card from me?” Once you have talked about this, you can say, for example, “Hiding your report card isn’t OK. What can you do differently the next time something like this happens?” Have her develop a plan with specific steps she can follow the next time she finds herself in a similar situation. You might also use this as an opportunity to do some problem solving with her about her schoolwork, and what she can do differently in the current grading period to bring up her grades. I am including a link to an article I think you might find useful: Sinking Fast at School: How to Help Your Child Stay Afloat. Good luck to you and your family as you work through this.

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

When you say "consequences for behaviour, not for lying", Can you please explain with an example. I am a bit confused.Is lying not a behaviour. My 12 year old child repeatedly lies to me that he took his medicine or brushed his teeth when he did not.Somehow I get the truth out. Do I give him consequences for not taking the medicine or for lying?

Comment By : Hopefulmum

* To “Hopefulmom”: Thank you for asking a great question. It can be a little confusing when you’re advised to consequence the behavior as opposed to the lying because lying is in a sense a behavior itself. As Janet Lehman advises in her article Kids and Lying: Does Your Child Twist the Truth? there are times when it is OK to give a consequence for lying. It should be something small such as loss of a privilege for the evening. While it is extremely frustrating to be lied to by your child, the most effective way to address lying would be to focus on helping your son develop better problem-solving skills. As Janet discusses in the article, lying is more a reflection of faulty problem solving than a moral issue. Try to remember that your son is lying to avoid a certain situation that’s difficult for him instead of because he’s trying to be hurtful in some way. One way to address your son not brushing his teeth would be to implement an incentive plan. As outlined in the article Child Behavior Charts: How to Use Behavior Charts Effectively, behavior charts can be an effective way to address hygiene issues. Sara Bean gives some other great ideas for addressing these types of behaviors in her article Poor Hygiene in Children: "My Kid Stinks-Help!". We would not advise using the tools discussed in the article to address your son not taking his medication. Talking with the prescribing doctor about ways to address that issue is probably going to be the most effective. I hope this has answered your question. Good luck as you continue to help your son develop better problem-solving skills. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

My son was hit by his FRIEND at his head and hurt his left eye using a flying disk, intentionally. The other boy immediately told me it was "just an accident". However, afterwards, my son told me it wasn't an accident, that the other boy purposefully hit him. My son is shy and has a mild temperament. He is very loyal to, even protective, and very caring of his friend. My son was very sad, hurt, and in shock following this incident. He did not expect the friend he cares so much would hurt him intentionally. Following that, the other boy cried and never faced me or talked to me directly again (he used to talk to me a lot). Then, the other boy decided not to come to our house play again. I think the other boy is under pressure since my son is very advanced in reading, math, and creative plays, or I guess, in the gifted/talented group. I can tell the other boy wants to or tries to exert his control or his power of control, but he couldn't, then probably just got mad and hit my son. At this point, my son is sad that he's about to lose his friend. But on my mind, the other boy lied and never apologized or showed any apologetic gesture, he was feeling guilty at hitting his friend first, then he resorted to feel it's ok and not have the guilt that he lied and hit my son. I have told my son to go out there and make some new friends, but he only wants this boy friend. I don't want anything hurt my son's self-confidence. I can tell, because that boy wants to end the friendship, it makes my son feel almost guilty and mostly sad. But it was really that boy's fault for hitting and lying to my son. What should I do? What should I say to my son to help him?

Comment By : sue

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