Why Kids Tell Lies And What To Do About It

by James Lehman, MSW
Why Kids Tell Lies And What To Do About It

Q: When your child lies to you, it hurts. As parents, it makes us angry and we take it personally. We feel like we can never trust our child again. Why does lying cause such anger, pain and worry for parents?

James: Parents are understandably very afraid of their children getting hurt and getting into trouble, but they have very little protection against these things as they send their kids out into the world. Kids learn from other kids and from the media, and it makes parents feel unsafe because they can’t control the information and ideas that are being presented to their children.

Let’s face it. Information isn’t just available to our kids; it’s injected into them. Bad ideas are pushed down our kid’s throats by their peers, by some adults, by the media. It’s hard for a parent to keep control of their kids when this is happening, and protect them from their own harmful impulses and dangerous outside influences.

Your kid’s honesty becomes the connector between what’s happening to him on the outside world and what happens at home. You need him to tell you honestly what happened today, so that you can honestly decide if that’s best for him.

You need to hear that information in order to decide if that’s going to help him meet his responsibilities now --and in the future. When parents don’t get the right information, they’re afraid they’ll make the wrong choices for their kids.

When your kid lies, you start to see him as “sneaky,” especially if he continues to lie to you. You feel that he’s going behind your back, that he’s undermining you. We begin to think that our kids are “bad.” We make the connection that if lying is bad, liars are bad. It’s just that simple.

Related: Does your child yell, call you names or swear at you?

Parents should hold their kids responsible for lying. But the mistake parents make is when they start to blame the kid for lying. It’s considered immoral to lie. But when you look at your kid like he’s a sneak and an operator who’s undermining your authority, it’s a slippery slope that starts with “You lie” and ends up at “You’re a bad person.” I think that perception of your kid promotes more lying. If your child thinks you think he’s “bad,” he’s going to hide the truth from you even more, because he doesn’t want to be bad. Even though they are lying, kids don’t want to disappoint their parents.

Q: Let’s look at it from the child’s perspective. What’s going in on a child’s mind when they lie to their parents?

James: Say you’re driving on the interstate and the speed limit is 65 mph. You know that if you drive 65 mph on the interstate, that’s the slowest anyone drives, and people fly by you, honk at you and call you names. So you go 75 miles an hour…and a policeman stops you. He says, “Ms. Jones, how fast were you driving?” And most people say, “Sixty five.” Or, “I thought I was doing sixty five, officer, or maybe a little over sixty five.” Why are people dishonest like that? Because they understand that driving fast is forbidden. But they don’t understand that it’s hurtful. We understand that it’s wrong to drive that fast and there are consequences. But we don’t understand that it really hurts anybody and that it puts people at risk.

It’s the same with kids. They know lying is forbidden. But they don’t see it as hurtful. Not the way that parents see it as hurtful. So a kid will say, “I know it’s wrong that I ate a sugar snack when I’m not supposed to. But who does it hurt?” “I know it’s wrong that I traded my dried fruit for a Twinkie. But it doesn’t really hurt anybody. I can handle it. What’s the big deal?” That’s what the kid sees.

When they don’t see it as hurtful, there are two different value systems operating: the family’s value system that says this is forbidden and the kid’s value system that says if it’s not hurting anybody, what do you care? The kid rationalizes his actions and justifies his behavior with the idea that it doesn’t hurt anybody. The outcome is a dishonest situation. A lie.

When you get to adolescence, of course, the stakes get much higher. But the thinking remains the same. Kids smoke pot and drink and say, “Well it doesn’t hurt anybody. My friends smoke pot and it doesn’t hurt them. I know drinking’s wrong, but my parents drink and it doesn’t hurt them. I can handle it. I’m older than my parents think I am.” They know it’s forbidden. They either don’t see it as hurtful, or they rationalize the hurt away.

Q: So what’s the best way for parents to deal with lying, so that they don’t feel hurt and resentful about it and so that the child learns not to lie?

James: The first thing you have to do is be careful of is giving lies too much power. If you have a kid who’s angry at you or who feels frustrated and powerless, and if he thinks he can get power over you by telling you a lie, he’ll use dishonesty to get that power. He’ll withhold information and lie by omission when you’re trying to get the truth. He’ll give you little pieces of information, and that makes him feel powerful. It’s a trap for parents. Honesty is important, but if you communicate that too strongly to your children, they will use that to have power over you. You have to keep these things a certain size so that they’re not used against you.

Related: Learn how to manage your lying child.

The second thing to remember is that you have to understand the power of the culture that kids go into. It’s a very powerful culture that exerts a lot of pressure to “fit in.” They may feel guilty if they lie to their parents. But, again, they’re thinking, “This isn’t that hurtful, and my parents just don’t understand.” Of course, parents do understand. They’re frightened, and they should be.

So I think that parents have to assume that kids are going to tell them lies, because they’re immature and they don’t understand how hurtful these things are. They’re also drawn towards excitement, and their parents aren’t. It’s not like the good kids aren’t drawn to excitement and risk, and the bad kids are. It’s not that the good kids don’t lie and the bad kids do lie. They’re all drawn to excitement, and they’ll all have a tendency to distort the truth because they’re kids.

I think parents have to deal with lying the way a cop deals with speeding. If you’re going too fast, he gives you a ticket. He’s not interested in a lot of explanations from you. He’s just going to give you a consequence. Look at it the same way with your child. He didn’t tell the truth, whether the truth was distorted, omitted or withheld. There should simply be consequences for that. The first time you lie, you go to bed an hour early. The second time, you lose your phone. It should be something that the kid feels. You lose your phone for twenty four hours. You lose your phone for two days. You lose computer time or TV time.

The consequences have to make the child uncomfortable or they don’t change anything. The idea is that the next time he’s faced with telling you the truth or lying, he’ll recall how uncomfortable he was when he did the consequence for lying, and he’ll tell you the truth instead.

The consequence should be about the lying. If there’s a separate consequence for the incident, that should come down separately. If you come home later than your curfew and you tell me the truth, you may still lose going out Friday night, but you won’t lose your phone. If you lie to me, you lose both.

Parents should not get into the morality of it. Just be clear. Lying is wrong, it’s hurtful and, in our home, we tell the truth. But don’t make it a moral issue. Make it a technical issue. You broke the law. You broke the rules. These are your consequences.

When a cop writes me a ticket, he doesn’t follow me home or argue with me. He hands me my ticket and he drives away. Approach the consequences for lying the same way. Don’t argue about it or get into a big discussion. Discuss it in a structured way: “What were you trying to accomplish by doing that?” Not “Why did you lie? You know how much lying hurts me.” Just ask what he was trying to accomplish, then point out that lying is not the way to solve his problem. Compliance is the way to solve it. Talk about it after things have cooled down, not in the heat of the moment. Explain what will happen if he lies again. “If you lie to me about the dance, you're not going to the next dance and I’m taking your phone for twenty four hours.” Just keep it really simple.

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James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James' foremost goal was to help kids and to "empower parents."


This is SO timely. My granddaughter has been lying to her mother, her Aunt and me and I'm guessing others. This has really bothered all of us so I'm thankful to have this discussed with your suggestions. Thank you, Pam

Comment By : Pinkie

what if you threaten, but they don't care? or you punish them, but they don't do what u say?

Comment By : sam

I have real issues with my 17 year old lying. The article had some great points for example - not making the lie a moral issue. We have tried the progressive discipline for lying - first the cell phone, then the computer, then the TV and none of these things were ever painful enough (she said) Same problem with skipping school - she soon figured out that getting one day of in-school suspension was an opportunity for her to catch up on homework and not an unpleasant discipline. Now, entering her senior year next month, we are still battling the lies and deviance. It's maddening.

Comment By : carrie

Good concepts. I think you clearly made the distinction between "understanding" a behavior as opposed to "excusing" a behavior. You can't blame a leaky tire for not holding air if you don't bother to address the hole in the first place.

Comment By : Siri56

my 4 yr old lies do kids at this age know the diffrence or do theyt even know what lying is???

Comment By : help

Very good and timely. However, besides the stories (lies) for the past 12 years of my son's 14 years he has a problem with stealing. He took things from a store when he was 7 yrs. old. I brought him to confession and also to my local police station. Now, at 14, I just found $240. hidden in his room. He said, he has been taking money from his Mom and I so he could buy a new paint ball gun. We are an afluent family and he gets a $20. a week allowance. He can also work at our family business for money, but he doesn't. Since this is not a single incedent and continous, what should I do? Our school counselor said he could counsel him, because something inside (problem) is affecting him to do this. Give me your ideas.

Comment By : tjarosky

my stepson has been lying to us for a couple of years now,he lies on other people to make his self look good or because he gets mad at them or because his friends dont like them,he just caused a big stink at his school about one of his teachers and it is mainley because his friend cant stand her,and he argues with me constantly, there is somedays that i am at my wits end,

Comment By : ladyhawk

My son(13) just recently took our credit cards and bought "gaming points" online. We saw very large charges and got an alert from the bank. The gaming site shut him down and he lied to us about the charges until we found another credit card a few days later with attempted charges (over 1000.00). He then told us that he had taken our credit cards and done this. We have restricted his use of the computer and any kind of gaming indefinitey. He was remorseful at first, but I do not know if I can ever trust him again. This is not the first time he lied, but this is the biggest.

Comment By : Frustratedmom

* Dear Frustrated Mom: It sounds to me like your son is out of control. He’s lying and stealing from you. Not only is he stealing, he's doing it in a very sophisticated way. His behavior is very brazen. First of all, you have to take steps to protect yourself. Putting a lock on your bedroom, having a small safe, and locking things in your car are all ways to protect yourself from this type of threat. I strongly suggest that you call the police and press charges against him, and hold him accountable legally as well as in your home.

Comment By : James Lehman, MSW

I guess it all depends on weather you want your kids to be motivated from the inside, or the outside.

Comment By : Angela Goff

Wow, i have a 7 year old little girl who lies and knows that it is wrongly morally. I feel frustrated but am being told she will grow out of it, all kids go thru that phase. I am wondering if I am being overly concerned. Taking away the TV isn't punishment to her, she just picks up her coloring books or draws instead. I am trying to understand what consequence is appropriate for her age group

Comment By : miami

I'm so glad I'm not alone here. My son turns 11 tomorrow. For the last couple of months he has been lying frequently and in the last week he tells a lie every five seconds! James is quite correct in saying "Don't make it a moral issue". The angrier I get, the more my son lies. I read this article in desperation and I realise my mistakes. Albeit with good intentions, I've made my son afraid to tell the truth.


I have a daughter that is 11 and she tells tall tales. example they were studing Valley Forge in school and she told them a story that went something like this...I had heard that the soldiers were so cold, frost bitten and starving that they would break their toes off and eat them. Is this considered lying? or should she become a story teller? When I asked her about this she told me that she wanted everyone to like her and find her interesting. Her much older 1/2brother used to tell them bed time stories that were very outlandish and she loved him so she was just trying to be like him. This is just one of many stories should I be concerned?

Comment By : story telling mom

My son is now 17 and has been conviently lying for many years. The problem is that he lies so well that he can convince us that he didn't do it. Although it is very unlikely that anyone else did it, he puts the question in our minds.

Comment By : Barb

I have an 11 year old daughter whose been lying a lot lately. Her first lie was a beginning of school. She had told me the school changed her class schedule, when in fact they didn't and I called up to the school b/c she wanted it changed "back" but they never changed it and made me feel like a fool. Then she lied about it, first saying her friend told her that her schedule changed, then it was the office lady that told her, so finally after more in -depth conversation she came clean. Her punishment for lying was she was grounded from the computer, TV and games. Ok then the next day after school she walked up to a different school, then missed the bus, and lied why she missed the bus. The next day after I told her NOT to walk up to that school again, she did it once more... this time she was grounded from her cell phone, going anywhere, and TV, Comp, Etc. ok well after 1 week I gave her TV back, still no cell or comp. After 2 weeks got cell back. AND I just found out that she'd been on the computer several times and she lied about that... it’s “myspace” she said her friend got on it for her, what am I to do???? Punishing her doesn’t seem to work!

Comment By : Frustrated Mother in OK

My family has been fractured by my 7 year old nephew telling hurtful lies, specifically, he repeatedly tells his Grandmother that his father calls her "a witch" ..My mom (grandma) bought into his story hook line and sinker and refuses to participate in family functions though she will not tell my brother why she cut off family time..she only told me (sister) then forbade me to share the information with my brother. I of course told my brother what his adopted son, my adorabe nephew was doing..and we are absolutely flabbergasted as to how to handle this situation.. Nephew has grandma all to himself and continues to tell her that she is being called a witch..HELP PLEASE I can't stand it, what should we do?

Comment By : blugirraffe

I still remember when my son was aghast at finding out his older friend was stealing from his sister and Mom. We confronted them, kindly, and they refuted the fact. So much for that. Yet, I let my son know the importance of what he had told me and we acted on our feelings. Now, I see my son losing his sense of consciousness and conscience. He has begun reading Robert D. Hare's amazing book: " Without Conscience". A testament to the time spent with his father; that allowed me to get him out of my head,system and life. Of course, my son sees this book as so very exciting. Drama. A game. I love it when you put forth the genius analogy of simply being no less or more than "a cop". Like you said, no officer pulls an offender over for speeding, hands out a ticket and starts to argue ... Exactly! No discussion. Accountability. Makes perfect sense. Yet, it is not working .. I have tried to take something away. Doesn't work. My son will persist. I am a single Mom. Police have told me "corporal punishment" is a solution that they agree with. to a certain extent ( no kidding! ), and other far from kind actions have been suggested. We live in a small space. My son is well fed and all his basic needs are very well afforded. He knows he is the center of my universe and I would never send him away ( even though ...), and he is quite sure he is fine and mighty, from the perch where he so safely sits. Often, my son is a dream come true. Yet, his attitude is getting worse and worse. I employed a counsellor who is a protege of Dr. Gordon Neufeld, whom suggests, as everyone else: "more structure" in the form of school, and activities such as soccer, etc. Still ... My son has stolen the keys and dropped them in the river. Stolen money for years. My bank card, 2 or 3 times, to no avail. Now, he is trying to get into my paypal account. I hide my monies, deposit dollars, sleep beside my backpack where my cheque book, etc is tucked inside. He knows I don't trust him. I tell him " you must earn back my trust. I once gave it freely. I will again, once ...". Usually, I keep the focus elsewhere, or I would go mad with concern, worry and fears. For the present and his future. Not to mention, my sanity. Thanks for your wonderful forum. Can't wait to order your cd's. Please feel free to offer me any sage advice, right now. My son left the house at close to 10 am and often he does not return for 12 hrs or more. When I have talked on too long, scolded or attempted to make him accountable, it just seems to me, that it warrants, on his behalf, more absurd reasoning to act out, again. After absurd promises, he does it, the next day. Now, he is making himself sick, with running around outside in winter, with no jacket - often and not bringing any of the food or water needed. He's weakened and apologetic. I make him strong again and the circle ensues ... Devoted and so very tired, Katherine

Comment By : Katherine

My daughter is going on 15 next month, she is so socialible at school, so much that some of her classes she is not turning in her work. We had a talk about that, how her not doing so is affecting her previledges at home or with friends. She lies every now and then, when she gets caught, she is very sneaky and plays dumb when you confront her...now I just found out she skipped school on the 9th and was late that Monday coming in at 9:40am. I confronted her and she gave me a lie after calling the school. So now I am going to deal with the situation when I get home today...and I did not use it as a moral issue, told her she hurts me and everyone else when she lies, and affects her previledges. But here we go again, she is lying to me...I am hurt and angry.

Comment By : angrymom

I found out two days ago that my 8 year old girl tells lies. What's more shocking to me was that she made up stories, events and charaters that do not exist. Now I am thinking back, in her lies, she even made up the sequence who said what and with what kind of facial expression, etc. The lies could begin with a conversation we had 8 months ago and she would continue to provide me with an update from time to time. She has been doing good in school and has been a very obedient and charming child. She always gets the attention for her good accomplishment and maybe this where the problem starts. She wants to be able to keep the attention? In addition to finding out what possible cause behind this behavior, what guidance should I proceed with my child? I was looking for articles on this website related to the subject about "making things up" unfortunately it is not listed. I guess lie is lie... Any suggestion from any of you is greatly appreicated........

Comment By : purple

I believe that others have this same situation that I am about to speak about. Parents that have shared custody....just recently as November, my son was given temporary custody of his 10 yr old son, who has since turned 11 in January. He was awarded to his father due to abuse situations in the home. With this behavior comes a number of issues...falling behind in school, lack of hygiene, totally unmovitated, moving so slow that it makes you wonder if his blood is even pumping through his veins, lying, and the list goes on. It is almost like getting a child that has been raised by wolves. So now the process begins here with catching up in school and he is sooooo far behind but we are working hard and it is paying off. His attitude is self explanatory, that his frustration is in not knowing what he should know and that he has never been helped at all. But the lying comes from his mother, who encourages him to lie to his father and then tells him if she gets in trouble, that he will be ressponsible because he told the truth. What do you do with a parent like this that is disregarding any ground we might have made with him by these tactics. He is torn between doing what she wants and says to do and what his dad says is right and he must do. I am the grandmother and tutor him after school each day and we have the strongest connection. I have received your program last Friday, and am just getting into it, but this sight is wonderful. The answers are here that we have been looking for....even though we have had him in counseling, these questions are right on target. If you have any suggestions on how to deal with adults and their parenting skills...please let me know before I use my own devices. I want this child raised in the loving environment he deserves and needs and without issue of pulling his heart pulled apart by choosing sides and not having the emtional skills to discern who he should listen to. He knows right from wrong, but he is strugling as it involves his parents.

Comment By : honey

My 17 (18 in less than a month) is lying, spending time with someone we don't approve of, smoking pot and cigarettes, sneaking out. She went to a therapist a few months ago, things seemed better, and it is starting again. She has stated that she wants to stop lying but is frustrated with our not allowing her to see this guy, trying to stop her from smoking pot and cigarettes, etc. Sometimes we seem to have great conversations about this and find ways to change behavior but then I find out she's been with this guy, has gotten high, lied about how she spent her time, etc. She gets great grades in school, is a star at her part time job but is just getting in riskier and riskier behavior. She gets grounded, she pays for her cell phone, doesn't seem to mind having computer/tv time taken away. Any suggestions?

Comment By : dmag47

My 14 year old son lies to us all the time by conviently telling us he "forgets". He lies to us about little things like brushing his teeth, taking a shower after football workout, and things we tell him. We try to make his punishment fit the crime. We have grounded him from the computer, the video games, etc. We have even taken away his Ipod touch. My husband (who has an anger management issue problem) threatened to break his IPod touch the next time he lied. He lied this morning and I saved the IPod. I refused to let him break the IPod touch my son purchased hisself. I grounded him from his I-Touch for months. It was a very heated arguement this morning but I'm at a loss at what to do with the whole situation. Both me and my husband grew up in abusive homes (his was physically/mentally abusive and mine was emotionally/mentally abusive). We try not to repeat the abuse but this morning it was close to having my childhood memories repeated of my things being destroyed because my mother was trying to punish me. I just couldn't let it happen. I don't know what to do anymore with my son's lies and my husband's handling of the situation. Please help.

Comment By : UpsetMom

* Dear UpsetMom: I am sorry to hear how tense this situation has become for you. It’s great that you recognize when something is a punishment. Punishments do not cause behaviors to change. Punishments cause resentment but not remorse. Consequences, with a learning component built into them in the way that James Lehman lays out in Total Transformation Program require kids to practice a new behavior—not just do without a privilege. What is important in your situation is to separate the lie from the behavior the child was lying about. They are two different things. James Lehman recommends that the lying itself be handled separately from the behavior. Kids lie to solve a problem—to solve the problem of getting in trouble. Have a simple consequence for choosing to lie about your responsibilities then have a separate consequence for the behavior the child was lying about. For example, you lose your IPOD for the next 2 hours for lying. In addition to that, you will not get it back after those two hours unless you have taken your shower. Long, extended punishments that don’t require your child to practice any skills or to accomplish any goals will not help your child learn to be responsible and accountable. Remember, it is not necessary to name a consequence in the heat of the moment. When we’re particularly angry at our kid’s behaviors, we should disconnect, clear our heads and settle our emotions. You could say, “We’ll talk about this later” as you walk away for a break. I hope some of these ideas will help you. Good luck and keep in touch with us.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

Many times my son will lie, and insist that he is not lying. At the time, I know he is lying, he knows he is, but he still insists that he is innocent, that he is the victim. How do I deal with this?

Comment By : mom of teen

I am confused about what to do if I "know" my 15 year old is lying but cannot "prove" it, like when he insists he did a homework assignment or a project for school and the teacher says that he did not hand anything in. He claims that he did it & left it for the teacher on her desk, or in her mailbox, etc. I don't believe him, and then he feels betrayed by his parent.

Comment By : Beth

Beth. We had the same issue with our 15yr old not doing schoolwork. The person on the Parental Hotline suggested we have the teachers email us each Friday with any unfinished work for the week. If there is any, his weekend does not begin until he completes it.It's good to get the specifics of the assignments from he teachers so you can can be assured his done it.

Comment By : Charlie

My 14 year old daughter has been lying and stealing from me and her great grandmother for the last year now. She is so verbally abusive towards me. I am to the point that I do not believe anything she says because when I catch her in a lie that I can prove she just says "that is not right and you are just stupid" She is verbally and physically abusive towards me. She has been in therapy and it worked at first I thought but she was playing the therapist and after several months she was worse than when she started. She threatens to lie to get me put in jail if I do not do what she wants. I am at the end of my rope and do not know what to do.

Comment By : Becky

* Dear Becky: I’m sorry to hear you’re in such a tough situation. I’m sure you want to ‘Assume Control’ in your home, just as James Lehman says: Assuming control, stating the limits or house rules, then disconnecting from your daughter to prevent power struggles and arguments and implementing a consequence for her choices if necessary. When a child tries to use blackmail, such as calling the police and lying about you, you must ignore that threat and not re-negotiate your house rules. State that, “Threatening to call the police will not solve the problem.” You also mention that your daughter is physically and verbally abusive toward you. Part of assuming control in your home is establishing an environment where there is ‘No Excuse for Abuse’, as James would say. If your daughter is using physical and verbal intimidation to gain power over you, you have to take away that power by not tolerating these behaviors. She needs problem-solving skills so that she has alternative ways of dealing with situations and feelings. If you feel you cannot manage the violence or stealing in your home, James recommends that you call the police when crimes of property destruction and violence are committed. Services outside your home, such as the police, therapy or social services may be needed if your child has reached a stage where they use intimidation to gain power over you. If your child will not respond to your authority, it’s necessary to seek a more powerful authority outside your home. You might try family therapy next time so that you are actively involved in her treatment. There is always hope, even in the most difficult of situations. Sometimes it requires some difficult decisions on our part to move our child in the direction we know they need to go.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

I have a triple threat. A 16 y/o Stepdaughter and 14 and 12 y/o sons. They all have been lying. The youngest is the only one that will come clean when asked. The 16 y/o has lied to the extent of wrecking a car and making up an elaborate story. Good investigative work by me and her mom found out the real story. The 14 y/o constantly lies about his schoolwork/homework. Any consequences we impose on him seem to don't phase him. We follow up on all stories these kids tell and have went as far as calling up everyone involved. We, as parents, are at wits end. Help!

Comment By : David

* Dear David: As James Lehman says, “Kids lie to solve a problem.” “I didn’t get my homework done, so in order to not get into trouble, I’ll just lie about it.” Frequently, it doesn’t even have that much forethought. It's a knee jerk reaction to getting out of an unpleasant moment. James recommends a standard, separate consequence for lying, to treat it as a ‘technical’ issue, as he states in this article, then put your real problem solving focus on the behavior your child lied about. Using homework as an example, set-up a specific time of day when your child has to do homework. Even if he tells you he has none, it’s still school work time—he can review or study ahead. You can tell him you will consider changing this when there is an improvement in his homework getting turned in on time. Again, this is putting most of your attention toward the behavior he lied about and not the fact that he lied. This sounds tough, but remember not to take it personally and to stay consistent with the message that lying doesn’t solve your problem and only leads to additional consequences. Consider calling the trained specialists on the support line for more discussion on how to use the techniques in the Total Transformation Program. Good luck to you! Let us know how it is going.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

My son is 17 years old and I have been dealing with him lying to me about everything; brushing his teeth, doing his homework, running up my home phone $500 worth of long distance charges and recently breaking into a fireproof safe to retrieve his cell phone that I took away for his poor grades. I cannot seem to get through to him and see the error of his ways. I have tried every type of punishment from no TV, taking away video games, cell phone. I have recently resorted to selling taking all electronic away from him completely, but nothing seems to bring him back to reality..

Comment By : Tara

Our daughter (age 10) lies about even the simplest of questions, e.g. "Did you brush your teeth yet?" The lies have created problems at school and within our family. We've had the family in counseling for 3 months now, but I don't think we're making any progress. We use separate consequences for the lying and the issue, but we just aren't getting through to her. It's creating problems now between my husband and myself over tension from her behaviors. Her twin brother had the same problem and the methods worked with him. But we are not getting through to our daughter. We used James' tapes over the summer and we have been in family counseling to try and help resolve the lying. It did help greatly with our son but the same methods are not working with our daughter. We're not sure where to turn next.

Comment By : Linda

* Dear Linda: One of James Lehman’s really important teachings regarding lying is to not allow it to become a ‘moral issue’ or to take it personally. He’s recognizing that a child’s use of lying can get blown out of proportion when it is really just another faulty problem solving technique. It sounds like this might have happened in your family—that the impact on your family of your child’s use of this poor habit is much larger than it needs to be. Find a way to come to agreement with your husband on how you will handle this issue so that there is no longer a tension between you two that your daughter is picking up. Try to keep emotionally neutral and business like when you have conversations with your daughter about lying. Putting this behavior in the right perspective and giving the habit of lying some time to change will likely help your daughter to use better techniques in the future. We do get a lot of questions regarding handling lying on the Support Line and would welcome a call from your family to thoroughly discuss James’ techniques. Please keep in touch.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

im happy to read all the comments but im very stressed my 12 yr old skipped school was rude didnt clean up so i took her phone she didnt care i then grounded er for a month on the last day of the punishment she ran away after school and told police i always shout at her and send her to her room and i took her phone and she didnt want to come home now the social services are involved they have eliminated me and concentrated on her lies now teh latest she says i pushed her down which never happened ive spoiled her by giving her watever she wanted but now im beside myself i have twin 2yr old boys also who she is jealous of please help me our lives are being ripped apart

Comment By : ros

My 9 year old daughter is really getting out of hand.She has been lying about little things like...eating in her room and hiding the evidence so I don't find it.Her lying is getting worse and more serious, just a couple months ago i noticed that fifty dollars was missing out of my bill money.. when I confronted her she blamed it on her ghost friend and she told me were the Friend had put it, when I went to look for it, it was not there and I found it in a totally different place.Now on top of all of this I though she had gotten better but two more big events has happened.First I found her on the computer talking to people on a virtual reality game she had told someone she was 19 when i asked her about it she said "Well the charater on the game looks 19"....And today I found a note from the teacher about how my daughter had gotten a 10 on her spelling test and signed my name so she didn't get in troubled. I'm so sad cause I feel like I can't trust anything she says anymore.I have tried punishment (taking things away that she loves) but nothing seems to work. I really need help I just don't know what to do anymore.

Comment By : Jennielyn

* Dear Jennielyn: Lying can be such a big issue for some kids. Remember, kids use lying as a way to solve their problems - to get out of the rules, or keep themselves out of trouble. While it's tempting to talk to your daughter about the moral issues around lying, that discussion in and of itself is unlikely to change her behavior. You might let her know that you are concerned about her lying, and remind her that lying doesn't keep her out of trouble; she still has to follow the rules, even when she doesn't like them. Let her know that you will check on her activities more closely until you see that she is following the rules as she is supposed to. She will earn more privacy when she shows that she is meeting household expectations. If you find she has broken a rule, such as eating in her room, she will have a consequence; let her know she will also have a separate consequence for lying. Please read “How Dare You Lie to Me!“ How to Deal with a Lying Teen for more suggestions on how to deal with this issue. because lying about her age on the computer could present safety issues, let her know that she has lost the privilege of using the computer unsupervised. When she can show that she is consistently following the rules for using it, she can begin to have small amounts of unsupervised time, though you will check the computer history to see that she is making safe choices (check with your local computer stores to find out what parental controls are available to you). You might also read Teens and Privacy: Should I Spy on My Child? Plus: The 4 Tactics Kids Use When They Get Caught Good luck, and please keep in touch.

Comment By : Megan Devine, Parental Support Line Advisor

My 6 year old daughter has been telling lies to me. For example she got in trouble the other day at school for bitting a classmate. She admitted to the principal and her teacher that she did it but turns around and tells me she didn't do it. I honestly believed her. So I looked into it some more and spoke with her teacher who looked into it some more also. Later on in the day I got a phone call from her teacher telling me what she found out. Well, my daughter yet again told her teacher "yes I bit her, but I told my mom I didn't". So later when my daughter got off the bus she still tried to tell me she didn't bite this other student. So I took everything from her for the whole day. No tv, no computer, no nothing. Then she wants to get mad at me because I believe her teacher. I am so confused. I do now believe she did bite the other student but can't figure out why she would want to lie to me. It's only me and her and I should me the person she shouldn't lie to. What to do?

Comment By : concerned mother

* Dear ‘concerned mother’: We get a lot of inquiries about how to handle lying. You are not alone. It’s very common for kids to lie. James Lehman says, “Kids lie to solve a problem.” Sometimes it’s to solve the problem of getting into trouble or to not face what they have done—to protect themselves from your disappointment in them or your disapproval. Sometimes it takes awhile for a child to learn that it’s better not to lie, but lying probably won’t go away all together. One thing you want to help a 6 year old to understand is that lying won’t change what really happened. As James Lehman says, “Parents should hold their kids responsible for lying. But the mistake parents make is when they start to blame the kid for lying.” He suggests that you try not to over-react to lying, but have a simple consequence when kids lie—separate from the consequence for the behavior they lied about. Overreacting and giving severe punishments will probably encourage lying to avoid punishments, rather than to discourage lying. You will also want to talk to your daughter about what she can do the next time she’s upset at someone. Lying is actually an indication that she knows she has done something wrong—that her sense of right and wrong is working. Calmly tell her she doesn’t need to lie to you, that you can handle the truth and you will help her problem solve around changing her behaviors. We’re glad you asked this question and hope that using the techniques in the Total Transformation program is giving your family some good resources for making positive changes in your home.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

What about when an adult child repeatedly lies to you? How do you handle that? Consequences don't apply here. Our 25 yr old daughter lives out of state but stays in very close contact with us with daily calls. The most recent lying episode involves her living arrangement. She has created an elaborate charade protecting the fact that her boyfriend has been living with her for 1.5 years. We find ourselves dealing not only with yet another episode of our daughter’s lying but now we have the boyfriend lying also. That’s yet another issue on how to deal with him too! Some earlier lies of hers involved financial issues that she didn't want to deal with. She's also lied to previous boyfriends and girlfriends. It's not just us she lies to! It's apparent that she can't deal with disappointing people and/or the reaction that might follow when folks learn she's made a poor choice. After repeated episodes of lying, stretching back to her teen years, to avoid "disappointing" us, I can no longer turn the other cheek with the assumption that THIS time she's learned her lesson and won't lie again. Each aftermath, we're drawn back in only to find 6-12 months later that she's lied yet again about something. I feel as though a different approach by us is warranted. Have we been enabling this bad habit (her failure to embrace her adulthood) by quickly picking up the pieces by returning to our loving reception of her frequent phone calls? I've repeatedly explained that we respect her adulthood and her right to live & do as she pleases. We don't necessarily have to like everything she chooses to do, but it's her life. We don't rub her nose in it either. All we have asked is to just be honest. It's a lot easier to deal with the reality of her choices then be faced with her lies. The situation is compounded 100-fold with the lie. I'm afraid that in the future, in order to maintain honesty, we're going to need to keep a healthy distance in all our conversations. I hate to think that the close relationship will have to end in order to avoid falling back into her old ways. There's been no communication from her for over 6 weeks since this lie was uncovered. NO apology whatsoever. Since there's no indication she even senses she's done anything wrong, what does a parent do now?

Comment By : HonestyPlease

* Dear ‘Honesty Please’: Because your child is an adult and living on her own, she is now entitled to her privacy. This can be a difficult transition for parents. Your relationship in some way takes on the aspects of a friendship. Just as with your other friends, be willing to accept that your daughter does not have to tell you everything. She is within her rights to say she’d rather not answer a question she finds too private. There are those who consider that withholding information is lying. But it’s more complicated than that. Try letting your daughter know that you respect her privacy and will not be alarmed or upset if she keeps some things to herself, therefore there is no need for her to lie in the future. Hopefully you won’t have to experience the frustrations of misconceptions going forward.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

Please help me, I am a single mother with an ex husband that isn't sane literally, I have a 17yr old son that lies about everything, homework, makeup work started skipping school. Last night I found out he was suppose to go to a friends house instead he was trying to get another friend to go to a party with him. He is extremely gifted but chooses not to use it, his grades have plunged but however he did pass this year (how we don't know) he goes back and forth between me and his dads because his dad thinks that he is hurting me.So everytime I discipline or try to he runs to his dads which can be a dangerous situation. It has been myself and my 17yr old son and my 14 yr old daugher for 13 years and I am shocked at the way he has started behaving in the last year or so. Please give me some advice on what to do. I'm scarred for him and afraid he is going to screw up his life and he has great potential to be somebody.He is interested in forensics and I can only pray that motivates him somehow. Please help me!

Comment By : Feeling Completely Helpless

* Dear ‘Feeling Completely Helpless’: It can be very difficult when divorced parents are in conflict over how to discipline their kids. Try to focus on what you can control in your own home and not what occurs at Dad’s house. (If it truly is an unsafe environment at his father’s house, work with your state’s child protective services). If he chooses not to follow your house rules, give a consequence for that choice. This article by James Lehman, author of the Total Transformation Program, will help you implement consequences: How to Give Kids Consequences That Work http://www.empoweringparents.com/How-to-Give-Kids-Consequences-That-Work.php Don’t renegotiate your house rules for fear your son will take off. At the same time, be willing to give him more independence as he grows older and demonstrates that he can be responsible. Talk to him about checking in with you if he changes plans to make sure that what he plans to do is in line with your house rules. And to address lying, there is another article by James that explains his technique of setting up a standard consequence each time your son chooses to lie to solve his problems. Give this consequence in addition to a consequence for breaking a house rule. That article is: Why Kids Tell Lies And What To Do About It, http://www.empoweringparents.com/Why-Do-Kids-Children-and-Teens-Lie-What-To-Do-About-It.php. Remember, you can always call the trained specialists on the Support Line for encouragement and ideas on using the techniques in the Total Transformation Program. Keep in touch with us and let us know how it’s going. We’re here to help.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor


Comment By : yellow

I have a 12 yr old daughter that has been lying some lately and now she is starting to tell other kids that she is being abused at home. She was with her sister and some friends and they said that I was a cool mom and she told them that I was faking it when other people were around. Their mother called me to let me know what was said, she is afaid that someone might belive her one day. what do I do?

Comment By : casey4tenberry

This is great information! Eveything that is explained answers all my 5 yr olds behavioral problems with lying. This article was very helpful to me! Thanks

Comment By : jcrockrm23

What do you do when your 15 year old lies to you and your grown sister covers for her and doesn't seem to see the problem in a lie. It happens repeatedly and no one seems to see a problem with this. My husband and I are the terrible ones. Help!

Comment By : Hurt Mom

* Dear ‘Hurt Mom’: Working with lying can be difficult for parents. What we advise to callers on the Support Line is to step back from thinking about the lying for a second and think about the ‘behavior’ your child lied about. Focus on that behavior and not the lie. You’re not going to ignore lying; you’ll come back to that, but breaking the house rule drove your daughter to lie. In your case you also want to step back and remember that you are teaching your daughter that she’s personally accountable for her behaviors. Other people—friends or relatives—have nothing to do with her decision to break the rules. In fact, if you focus on her friends influencing her to make bad decisions or her aunt agreeing with her that her behavior is okay, you’re suggesting that she is not solely responsible for her own decisions and of course you want her to learn that she is. Consider ignoring the issue that her aunt covers for her. Besides, you have no control of what an adult chooses to do. Instead, focus on your daughter’s behavior. Remember, you can call the Support Line for more help. Let us hear from you.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

Thank you for responding, but She knows she is responsible for her actions she takes the full blame. But everytime she gets back on her feet and things go well she goes out with her cousin that is 18 and they do something that breaks the rules of my house and her cousin calls her mother and she comes up with a cover up and tells my daughter that when I was an adolescent I wasn't perfect. What do you do with that wile everyone in my family feels sorry for my sister and neice and can't understand why I get upset. I am supposed to get over it and think kids will be kids. Any sugestions?

Comment By : Hurt Mom

15 yrs old son who has been constantly lying and playing online games and Ipod almost 10 hours a day. He was a very good student till last year but this year his grade went down (three B's). He is not interested in any of the indoor/outdoor activities. Please suggest how to motive him!

Comment By : Kristen

* Dear Kristen: Sometimes when parents ask us how to motivate their kids, they are asking us how to make their child want to do something they don’t want to do. A more useful and practical approach to this problem would be to ‘teach your child to do things even when they don’t feel like doing them’. Here the goal is not to change the ‘feeling’ but to change the ‘behavior’. James Lehman, author of the Total Transformation Program says “You can’t feel your way to better behavior, but you can behave your way to better feelings.” Doing things that are challenging increases self-esteem. In the case you’re describing, use the Limit Setting Role from Lesson 3 of the Program and challenge your son to spend less time on electronics. James recommends that even in the summer time, kids need structure in their day. Schedule time for helping out around the house, time for physical activity, and interacting with the family at dinner time BEFORE your son can use any electronics.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

* Dear ‘Hurt Mom’: In this circumstance, your daughter has demonstrated again and again that she is not able to follow the rules when she’s out with her 18 year old cousin. Because of that, tell her she can see her cousin, but they need to be at your home so you or your husband can supervise them. You could also choose to take them out for an activity, like bowling or a movie, but you or her Dad will need to go with them—not just drop them off. She will likely protest this. You can respond by saying, “We want you to be able to see your cousin and have fun. However, since you have trouble following the house rules when you are with her, these are the conditions of spending time with her.” Stick to your house rules regardless of what your extended family may think or say. You have to do what you believe is right by your daughter. We wish your family the best.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

I have a 23 year old son living at home who has just finished two years of post secondary. He is having trouble finding a job in his field. He is working part time so does have some money and runs his own car which he paying a loan on. He also has loans coming due soon for the education. He also has a lot of consumer debt which he acquired buying designer clothes and other 'stuff' he wanted. He used to pay a modest room and board ($200 per month), but has stopped paying citing that he can't afford it. He seems to have an entitlement attitude that we shouldn't expect anything from him because he is struggling. I would happily help him out under normal circumstances, but his situation is largely self inflicted and he spends most of his spare time (which he has a lot of with only working 20 hours a week) sleeping or playing games on his computer (he says he is constantly looking for work, but won't consider anything full time other than in his field because he feels it will 'look bad' to prospective employers). We used to have a very good relationship - at least I thought we did, but I realize now that he was likely just keeping me sweet in order to get away with all this. He does nothing around the house, and seems to think he can live as he chooses and we should let him because he is am adult! Just lately I discover he has been lying about yet more purchases (newer/better cell phone) because he knew I would be upset. Too right I am, because he also ran up a few thousand dollars debt with me over the last six months which I was supposed to get back quite quickly (medical insurance for dentistry), but he barely has enough money to run his car just for work and his room and board, which he chooses not to pay now, but not including any other debt payments at all. How should I handle this? Why should I be carrying his debt and housing him because he is irresponsible with money and won't get off his butt and work harder to bridge the gap?

Comment By : Fed up

* Dear ‘Fed up’: James Lehman, author of the Total Transformation Program, wrote a series of articles regarding how to set house rules and expectations for older kids living at home. He writes that some kids are afraid to live on their own so they will set things up so that “can’t” leave home—such as taking on too much debt. The best way to get rid of the fear of being able to take care of yourself is to experience that you can do it on your own. Therefore, sheltering your son too much will prevent him from trying. Letting your child struggle a little bit is not a bad experience for them. It’s challenging to find that balance between the right amount of support and the right amount of limit setting in these situations. Refer to these 3 articles written by James Lehman: Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part I http://www.empoweringparents.com/Rules-Boundaries-and-Older-Children.php; Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part II: In Response to Questions about Older Children Living at Home http://www.empoweringparents.com/In-Response-to-Questions-about-Older-Children-Living-at-Home-by-James-Lehman.php; Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part III: Is It Ever Too Late to Set up a Living Agreement? http://www.empoweringparents.com/Rules-Boundaries-and-Older-Children-Late-To-Set-Up-Living-Agreement.php. We’re sure you’ll find some ideas here but feel free to call the trained Specialists on the Support Line for more suggestions on how to use the Program in your home. Keep in touch.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

Thank you so much for this article. My 7-year-old has been lying a LOT, and I was feeling that same "persecuted" taking-it-personal feeling, and at a loss for how to help him learn not to do it. This is an answer to prayers.

Comment By : Rachel

Help, my friends son 7 lied about doing something in his own home, what is worse he blamed my older son 13. It is so obvious he did it as he had motive and lied because he did not want to get in trouble. My son did not have motive nor, was he to suffer a consequence.This has caused a division with the kids in both familys. The young boy is sticking to his story and the older one feels betrayed, How can get to the truth? My 13 year old son said " remove the threat and he will confess" My friend believes her son would never lie.

Comment By : Stuckmom

* Dear ‘Stuckmom’: You may not be able to get to the truth of what happened and we would recommend that you don’t continue to try at this point. Since you believe your son, trying to get to the truth would only be an exercise in ‘proving’ to your friend that she and her son are wrong. That’s really less important than the opportunity to talk to your son about how to behave well even when things are unfair. There are many instances in life when this happens. Kids experience this feeling a lot in school, for example. That’s why we tell our kids that even if they think a school rule or a teacher’s decision is unfair, they still have to obey the rules and the teacher’s instructions. Help your son to accept the situation and require him to stick to your family’s standards of behavior even when the circumstance may be unfair.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

My 5 year old daughter just recently started lying to us. About a month ago, she has told us that her friend said her brother didn't like her, which I think may have happened. Then a few days later, she told me her friend said the same thing again. As she was saying it, I didn't think she was telling the truth, and as it turns out I was right. After talking to her, she said, "Oh yeah. I forgot. She didn't say it." Then, a few weeks later, my daughter told me a boy from her class said he didn't like her, which may have happened. But, last week, after I asked if the boy has said anything else to her, she said that he tells her every day in school that he doesn't like her. They sit at the same table. I ended up finding out that she was lying about that. He does not tell her that he doesn't like her everyday. He only said it to her once or twice. My husband and I asked her why she said this, but she said, "I don't know." "I just wanted to." "He said it twice. He doesn't like me." I want everyone to like my daughter, and I feel bad if anyone is "mean" to her, do you think this has something to do with her lies? If you could shed some light on this, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance!

Comment By : Mommy to 2

Our 10 1/2 year old has been lying right to our face after we watch him do something or he is caught otherwise. We are so frustrated with him. We are at ours wits end with him.

Comment By : KS

* Dear ‘KS’: It IS frustrating but not unheard of for a kid to lie in the face of clear evidence to the contrary. It’s puzzling to adults, but kids do have a lot of faulty thinking and their reasoning is different than ours. One cognitive skill that continues to develop in children this age is the ability to consider the future--to ask themselves if it’s worth it if they choose to lie in their defense. We want them to use that new skill. Sometimes kids get into the habit of lying right away--to avoid getting into trouble--because parents demand a quick answer, assuming answering quickly will prevent the child from thinking of a lie. Instead, kids frequently lie at this point. So, after asking your child to answer you truthfully, allow your child some time to weigh the future consequences and decide whether to tell the truth or to lie. Follow James Lehman’s guidelines in this article regarding giving a simple consequence for lying, not taking it personally, and putting more focus on the behavior your child has lied about.

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

My 16 year old daughter is lying and when you call her on it, lies to cover up the first one. Example: she was told to respond to a friend about babysitting. I asked if she did, she said yes, I asked her when(because I know the mom and she hadn't that afternoon) she told me a specific time. I find out the next day that no, she never responded. Her excuse was that she sent the message from her phone and the mom must have not gotten it, plus she had to rest her phone. If you can't 'prove' that they are lying, what should the consequences be. This has happened with several different scenerios

Comment By : frustrated

* Dear frustrated: There are two issues to address in your question. The first is your daughter’s responsibility to follow-through with her commitments. As a 16 year old, she should be able to manage her own baby-sitting business. Do not manage it for her. If you monitor her callbacks, you’re not allowing her the opportunity to learn how to do this. She doesn’t have to remember to call people back because you remind her to do it. You also want to be careful that you’re not sending her the message that you think she’s not capable—that she needs help or will fail. If she does not call people back, she will receive a natural consequence for this by losing a babysitting job. Regarding your question about lying, if you are not certain that your child has lied, you should not give them a consequence. But if you are certain that they have, it is appropriate to give them a consequence even without ‘proof’.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

My 11 y/o daughter has been lying to us so much lately, to the point that we are questioning our parenting skills. I feel as if her lies are out of control, it seems as if she lies without thinking about it. We have taken her phone, music, TV and sleepovers privileges in the past for lying. We have talked to her and mentioned things/privileges she would lose in the future if she lies again and yet she continues to do it. When we take stuff away from her for lying, we do it for days or weeks at a time, are we being too hard on her? We are frustrated and not sure if she will ever get over lying or if this could escalate as she gets older.

Comment By : KIM

* Dear Kim: Lying can be an incredibly frustrating issue. It’s completely normal, though, and James suggests that it is most effective to deal with lying in a calm and business-like way, and to view it as a problem solving issue rather than a moral issue. The lying is unlikely to diminish unless you work on teaching your daughter the skills she needs to solve her problems in a more effective way. James always said, “You can’t punish a kid into better behavior,” so we would recommend shifting your focus from finding the “right” consequence that is going to make your daughter stop lying, to problem solving. When things are calm, ask “what” questions to explore your daughter’s perception of the problem. For example, “What were you trying to accomplish by telling me _______ when the truth is _______?” Listen and then gently tell your daughter that the reason she gave doesn’t make the lying ok. Reiterate your rules about lying and ask her what she will do differently next time so she doesn’t get in trouble. We recommend using a standard consequence to hold your daughter accountable. For example, every time she lies, she loses her computer privileges for 2 hours. We don’t recommend suspending a privilege for any longer than 24 hours and if you’re catching your daughter in a lie every day, I would discourage using a 24-hour consequence because it will not be effective. It’s not about finding a consequence that “hurts” or that “catches her attention,” it’s simply about holding her accountable, having a cost to her behavior, period; and also helping her learn new skills that will help her.

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

i have took things from my duaghter,and she still tell lies and steal from. me we tryed every thing and told her that lying is bad. but she still keep doing it like she dont care if shecant have er cell she keep lying ang stealing

Comment By : mom n need

* Dear ‘mom n need’: Lying is something that many, many parents struggle with. James suggests you deal with lying very calmly and not to label it is “bad.” Labeling your daughter’s behavior as “bad” can actually cause her to lie even more. Let’s face it-- most kids don’t want to be “bad” or to get in trouble. Kids actually lie because they don’t want to get in trouble, because they want to be “good.” There is no “magic consequence” or “right thing” to say that will stop your daughter from lying. It’s a good idea to talk more about the lying. Ask your daughter, “What were your trying to accomplish when you lied to me?” and then talk to her about what she can do differently next time. This should be a simple, calm conversation. Come up with a consequence that you use every time, such as losing the cell phone for 2 hours. Over time, if you focus on talking to your daughter and teaching her new skills, instead of focusing on consequences, you should start to see her lying less often. Good luck as you continue to work on this.

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

I have spent in the thousands of dollars trying to figure out why my 7 year old lies. Testing, psychiarist, psychotherapist, neurologists, and CSW's (whom I have the least respect for.) Bottom line is some children are constant attention seekers and will try to get it in any way regardless of how much attention or love you give them. What can you do? No idea. I've tried it all and there is no professional out there that can help you because they do not live with your child. Speaking of your situation and actually living it is two different things, and because all children have different personalities what one solution may have helped one child does not mean it will help yours. Especially children as young as mine that really still do not have a full concept/comprehension between right and wrong.

Comment By : Blue

Hi everyone, I'm a young mother with a 13year old son. Laterly he's started lying to me for no reason. The smallest of things he would lie for. I just don't know what to do please if some can help me I'm open to try anything to help my son get over this.

Comment By : amy

* To Amy: Lying is an extremely frustrating issue for many parents. One important thing to keep in mind is that James Lehman felt that kids lie to solve problems—it’s a problem solving issue, and James felt we should deal with it that way rather than treating it as a moral issue. It’s important to talk to your son and help him find other ways to solve his problems. For example, you might ask, “What were you thinking when you told me_________ and the truth was ________?” Let him know his reason doesn’t justifying lying. “Just because you thought I would be upset doesn’t mean the rules change. The rule is that we tell the truth.” And then talk about what he will do differently next time to be honest. Have a standard consequence for lying that you use every time, such as the loss of one privilege for a short time, no longer than 24 hours. The key here is to repeat this process over and over, as kids require a lot of repetition to learn new behaviors. That said, this will take some time. Hang in there and try to be patient.

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

I came across site by getting info on child manipulative behavior; I see that Mr. James Lehman is truly on a parent and child's side at an intelligent and loving way to dicipline children & teens. This is amazing; you would think teachers & staff would be aware of this kind of education and understanding. This info should be part of parent training in elementary, middle, & high schools and news letters monthly, bi-weekly from schools & their websites; Then you really know that the schools care.

Comment By : maria

I've learned alot here! I've done all of what not to do and ive basially caused my 8yr old to lie more. Now, with punishments already in place until "I say so" how do I right this ship? How do I begin to make her feel like she is not bad and can tell me the truth even if it is a misbehavior?

Comment By : mommie

* To ‘mommie’: You ask a great question. Think of this as an opportunity to role model for your child. After all, we all make mistakes. This is a chance to show your daughter how to handle it when you do. We suggest that you sit down with your daughter and let her know that you have realized that what you are doing isn’t working—it’s not helping her stop lying. You can tell her you’ve been thinking a lot and you want to clarify what lying means to you. Here is where you might say that you know she is a good child and you now understand that she lies because she simply doesn’t know how to be honest yet and you want to help her with that. Talk with her about one specific thing she can do differently to be more honest in the future. Also, let her know how you will help her from now on and what you will be doing differently. At the end of the conversation you can tell her that you are going to start over—she can have back whatever she has lost today and you’ll work forward from there. We are so glad to have helped you and your daughter. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this.

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

I too am having trouble with my teen son with the lying. It really started last year with the influence of his peers and girlfriend. We had trouble with him doing his homework and when we asked him why he got a zero, it was someone else fault or he would make up an excuse for his actions instead of taking responsibility. So we put a contract together that stated what he was responsible for and what we were responsible for if he wanted to return to public school. During the summer we saw a change in him and his attitude, and then he started school. He was doing great and we were really proud of him. Then we were checking his grades online and we saw he made 3 f's (two low ones and a zero) in English and the other grades were starting to slip. So we sat with him and explained his responsibilities and his agreements with regards to the contact (he had to retain a "C" average in all his classes and not just for the end of the grading period, but the whole time). Then after we knew he had some tests, we went back online and rechecked his grades. 2 more very low f's. We were shocked! He went from an A average to a D-. So we stood by the contract and placed him in an accredited online school and removed him from the High School he was enrolled in. Then we start checking his phone and fine all kinds of lies he has been telling his girlfriend why he was pulled from school and when we confronted him with it. He lied about it, until we showed him the messages (that I had sent to my phone because I knew he would try to delete them). So we spoke to him about the lying and said that it was wrong. We did not go into a big speech or debate, we just simply took his phone for a week as well as no home phone privileges or going to hang-out with his friends, who we know he would use their phone to call his girlfriend.... What else can we do? It hurts to know you tried to teach them right and wrong and how lying hurts others, but I think sometimes they really don’t care how much lying hurts someone, as long as feel the form of self gratification about looking or being perceived as a big shot in the eyes of his peers. It is tough and it hurts, but my wife and I are determined to practice this tough love until he realizes that he does not run the home and that we are in charge. We love him and that will never change but we have to be the example and he needs to "Honor thy mother and thy father".

Comment By : Doc001

* To ‘Doc001’: It sounds like you and your wife have established clear values and expectations for your son. It’s hurtful when your child lies to you, and it’s helpful to think of lying as a problem-solving issue instead of a moral issue. James Lehman felt that kids lie as a way to solve problems. Even though it’s hurtful, your son is lying to try to help himself, not to hurt you. There is no need to do any more in terms of consequences. In fact, we would even recommend scaling the consequences back and coming up with a standard consequence for lying such as a loss of one single privilege for 24 hours. We do recommend adding problem solving discussions to your approach to lying. What this looks like is that after you find out he has lied, take some time to deal with your emotions, and then have a calm and businesslike discussion. Present him with the facts and ask him what he was thinking when he lied, or what his reason was. His answer will tell you what problem he was trying to solve. It makes sense that he might lie sometimes to appear cooler to his peers. Peers play a major role in any teen’s life and feeling accepted is a valid need for teens. Whatever problem your son presents, talk about what he can do differently instead of lying. It might help to give him a scripted response to use in case kids ask questions about the change in his school situation, for example. Keep up the good work you are doing and stay positive. You’re on the right track.

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

she is 15 and recently been allowed to go and hang with friends boys/girls and socialize. She has spent the night with other girls before but this time I didnt ask about the parents...........they didnt even know whether they were there or not. She was to be home and i spoke with her on the phone and she said she was home...........Turns out they werent home and never went home to the other girls home.........they stayed where all the other kids were ...........no parents.....When ask the next day about the evening ......she lied ....completely not once but many time.....even when i got the truth from the other girl.........and then she decided to tell the truth. I took her phone , computer for 3 weeks considering (after long visits about the situation)returning her privaleges I found out she had taken the sim card from the phone and placed it into another older phone we had and been using it. When discovered it was missing she completely denied knowing anything about it............but I found it and she owned up to that lie as well. HELP...........she has always be the best child.......never any trouble ......ever.

Comment By : her mom

* Dear "her mom": Thank you for your comment. What a tough situation to be in. Lying can be a common issue for many parents of teenagers and it definitely doesn’t feel good to be lied to. Even though it’s a common issue, it can be a rather confusing one to deal with. James Lehman talks about how teenagers don’t fully recognize how hurtful lying can be and even though it feels personal to us as parents, we should try hard to not take it personally. As you read in the article, kids lie in order to solve a problem. Do your best to avoid over reacting to your daughter’s dishonesty but instead challenge the behavior. Let her know that lying is hurtful and it is not ok. Your daughter needs to be made aware that if she is not able to be honest about where she is going or who will be there with her that will impact her freedom and social privileges. You can set up a short term consequence for the actual lie and you can establish new limits on what she is allowed to do socially. Allow her to earn back these social privileges by showing you that she is able to follow the rules, even when she doesn’t agree with them. As for the cell phone issue as frustrating as that is, the important thing is that you realized what was happening and took action. The consequence can remain the same. Your daughter might not have access to either phone for a specific period of time. We have another really helpful article on the subject of lying. You can read that article here (http://www.empoweringparents.com/What-to-Do-When-You-Catch-Your-Teen-Lying.php?&key=Lying) Good luck to you.

Comment By : Becky Staples, M.S./Ed.S, Parental Support Line Advisor

I too am at wits end with my 8 year old grandchild. She lives with me and has been since she was 8 months old. I have in the beginning repeatedly told her about not lying to me but now that i have read the article i will reword my conversations with her. She lies about doing her homework, about people choking her, about the teacher not giving homework, just simple little things and sometimes major things. I have acted on all of these. I have even took her to see a psych. and they told me she needed attention and that was why she tells lies. (that is not it i have given her plenty of attention) I have grounded her taken priviledges away. She still does it. I was beginning to think she was being just lazy with some of the things she says. I also have confronted her with her teacher on some of the things she says to show her i know that she is lying. She lies to the very end. I thought she had brain damage and got her tested. No she is fine. I want to pull my hair out sometimes with her. I am going to try the articles way of redirecting my response to her and see if it helps. I dont see how any of you do it with a child like this.

Comment By : trisha58

18 old son is stealing from younger one who is almost 14. They share a room.. Have 20 year old daugherty.in the home also. Findong our suspect the 18 or 20 year old taking meds from mother who has dementia. I hide meds, someone searches room 2 find the meds. Bey concerning. Dont have answer

Comment By : Joe n

* Hi Joe N.. One thing to remember is that if your children are involved with drugs, you can certainly let them know you will be searching their rooms and their belongings at any given time and that if you find drugs or paraphernalia, there will be consequences, up to and including the police being called. In the meantime, do your best to secure the medication and maybe even take a daily pill count so you know for sure if and when pills go missing. Here is an article with some more helpful ideas and suggestions for you: My Child Is Using Drugs or Drinking Alcohol—What Should I Do? We wish you luck as you work through this. Take care.

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

i am 17 years old i found myself browsing through all your comments and responses. not only this article, but this whole page helped me to understand the relationship i have with my parents. i think its hard for any children (namely teens around my age) to understand how they look in their parents eyes. in other words, i had a completely different picture in my head then what you people have shown me as to how my parents percieve me in their minds. i used to lie to my mum alot, sneek out to bashes in the middle of the night and smoke bud, my grades where falling. im not stupid, i knew it was detremimental for my health and the rest of my life. i read this and began to appreciate how much my parents care and do for me. i dont smoke anymore. i go to college everyday and just got accepted for physics at university (or college, for you Americans). ive never lacked goals, aspirations or motivation. I just thought i had something to prove or rebel against. when i realised it was for my own good, change was easy. i think parents should understand that children really are (as james said) just looking for their approval...but possibly even more, and understanding of the world around them. efficient punishments may be effective, but can be forgotten. the gift of knowlege i think is a much more useful tool. it clicked that i will always have much more growing to do as a person. i realise now that perhaps my parents made a few mistakes when raising me, and nobody is perfect, but they care more about me then i thought, so i was able to right the error in my own head. its hard for children living at home to think of their parents as actual people just trying to do the best they can...they seem more like an annoying natural force that can never be wrong or hurt. with i thought about the sacrifices made for me and the bond from my parents, it became easier for me to make that mutual. im not saying i feel obliged to do well ONLY for my parents, only that ive been woken up with the fact that they are NOT against me (per say) im so glad i read this because i could never pinpoint why i was intentionally destroying my own life. i think parents would benefit from being straight with their children, especially if they are old enough to understand. help your child WANT to do better for you..and maybe like me, they will like the rewards that follow, and continue in such a fasion for themselves. its just a thought, i have no qualifications in child psycology or experience in bringing up children...but it worked for me and my mum didnt so a thing. Thats after trying every punishment in the book (trust me...) now it hurts me to lie to my mother like some people describe the pain that you feel with your own children. im off to live my life. i hope you can find a light bulb in anything that i've written. Thanks everyone, for everything. sincearly.

Comment By : A Kids Perspective

I'm wondering if my child needs professional help. He's 8yrs old and has got out of bed the last 2 nights crying and telling me that he has lied about a situation and that he feels bad about himself and has decided to tell the truth. This sounds like a brave thing to do, however, the first night he got up to tell me he lied about where he'd found a toy (that he decided to bring home with him). He had originally told me he found the toy on the footpath across the road of his friend's house. But he told me that he lied.....that he actually found the toy on his friend's front lawn. I told he was brave to tell me the truth and that we should return it to his friend because it's likely that his friend left it on the front lawn. He went back to bed feeling happy that he'd told me the truth because he felt 'troubled' that he had lied. Then tonight he gets up after being in bed almost an hour and he's crying. He tells me he lied about where he found the toy...he actually took it from his friend's bedroom. So he lied about a lie. I don't get it! Why didn't he just tell the truth the first time that he decided to 'come clean' about the whole thing? We talk about how important it is to be honest and that sometimes we make poor choices and tell a lie but we can change and have a lighter heart if we're brave enough to tell the truth....even if it takes a while to find the courage to do that. This lying has not been a recurring thing...but this incident..he lied AND he stole. He then proceeded to tell me to take away his favorite toy so he'd learn his lesson and never do it again. My brain is so sore from trying to work out how I deal with this. I'm praying that this isn't the beginning of worse things. I'm on my own with 3 children as I was widowed 7yrs ago and have no hubby to talk to :( Thanks for listening. I'm so sad.

Comment By : TryingMyBest

* To 'TryingMyBest': It can be frustrating, confusing and heartbreaking to find out that your child has taken something from a friend, and then lied about it. James Lehman talks about focusing more on how you are going to deal with a behavior going forward, rather than trying to figure out the reasons behind a certain behavior. We recommend having a problem solving conversation with your son about what was going on for him when he decided to not tell you the truth, and what he can do differently the next time he is faced with a similar situation. As this is the first time he has lied to you, you may choose not to consequence for this behavior. If you do, make sure it is a small consequence that can be implemented each time you discover he has lied. As for stealing from his friend, we recommend having a separate discussion around that. Be sure to talk about what he was thinking right before he decided to take the toy, why stealing is wrong, and what he is going to do differently next time he is tempted to take something that does not belong to him. After your discussion, have him write down these points in a short essay, and return the toy to his friend. If the lying and stealing continue after this, then you might want to take him to his doctor to make sure that everything is OK. I am including a link to an article you might find helpful: Why is My Child Stealing and What Can I Do? Advice for Parents on Kids, Stealing and Shoplifting. Good luck to you and your family as you continue to work through this.

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

Much like the other parents, I too, have one of my own. I have a son who is 7 and for the past 2 years or so, we have had several occations where he has been caught lying to us. His teachers have even mentioned it to us a time or two. Some of these incidents are very serious and worry me. He has lied about his conduct in school and even has thrown his conduct slip away one day and claimed he did great. My husband and I were awarding him by his excellent conduct in school then found out he had really been doing horrible. He had even hid getting a paddeling at school and we found out when his behavior had gotten so bad his teacher emailed us and contacted me at work. Aside from these things, he has taken toys from his friends house and claims to have forgotten to give it back bfore leaving but had it stashed in his pocket. This has even happened from stores. Here lately my main concern has been with my other children and him since they are much younger. There has been an occaion where he hit his two year old brother in the face and in less than 12 hours pulled a little girls chair out from under her at school and then made her hit her head on it by kicking it into her. He has gotten into my two years olds face and yelled at him and other times if my eyes are not locked on them 24/7 my two year old cries and says his brother hurt him yet my older son will not say what happened he just keeps telling me he doesnt know what the other one is talking about. I have fussed at him some days when this happens to the point where he will tell me that he did do something, but it scares me because I cant watch them every single second and I scared if I do take my eyes off something terrible will happen again. I fear for my youngest sons safty and want to know what to do about my oldest son's behavior? PLease give me any helpful advice.

Comment By : worriedmom

* To 'worriedmom': When younger kids act out by hitting, stealing and lying, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and upset by this behavior. James Lehman tells us that kids act out in inappropriate ways because they cannot solve their problems in more effective ways. With the aggression toward his other siblings, we recommend not leaving him alone with the other children if you are concerned for their safety, and talking with him about what was going on right before he decided to hit his sibling. Focus more on what he saw and heard, rather than how he was feeling. Once you have done that, talk with him about what he can do the next time a similar situation comes up. For example, he can go to another room, or go outside to calm down instead of hitting his brother. After you have done some problem solving with him, and he has chosen one thing he will do differently next time, have him make amends to the sibling, for example, doing a sibling’s chore, or drawing a picture. I am including some links to articles I think you might find helpful: Hitting, Biting and Kicking: How to Stop Aggressive Behavior in Young Children & Sibling Rivalry: Good Kid vs. Bad Kid. Good luck to you and your family as you work through this.

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

my daughter lied this morning about eating breakfast-(she thinks that there are more important things than eating)when i confronted her her eyes filled with tears but she held it in ready to blurt it out but i knew she couldn;t because she knew i'd tell my husband and he'd take away all her privillagees. but i just wanted to talk her out of lying like this but now that will probably never happen becuase of her fear

Comment By : disappointedmom

my daughter is 10 years old and she is always getting herself in trouble/grounded. I am guilty of punishing her for a week depending on what she has done, but it wasnt always like that. we would try hrs, then days now we are at weeks. we took everything away from her because anything we took from her did not affect her. she used to have a tv in her room but we took that bc we would take the privlage of watching it away for one day but that didnt bother her or make her make the right choice so we took it out of her room compleatly. we talked about how we dont lie in this house and it will not be accepted and she would not get in trouble if she just told us the truth but she still lies. Shes failing two subjects and lies to her teacher. She told me she lies because she doesnt want to get in truble and i responed with but you will get in even more trouble if you lie so please just tell me the truth because you dont know if you would actually get in truble, you may just get a lecture.. I dont know what to do with her! please help. Any punishment advice will be greatly appreciated because she is missing out on important family time because she is always in trouble.

Comment By : sad mom

* To 'sad mom': It is so frustrating when children continue to tell lies, even when you have told her that lying is unacceptable. Unfortunately, you cannot simply punish kids into better behavior. More appropriate behavior comes from problem solving with your child and then holding her accountable to this with time-limited, task-oriented consequences. We advise using very short term consequences that are related to the reason why she is receiving a consequence. For example, it is more effective to suspend television watching until she gets her homework done that day than to take away TV altogether for weeks at a time. As James Lehman says, in order for consequences to be effective, they don’t have to be severe, just consistent. I am including a link to some articles I think you might find helpful: How to Get Your Child to Listen: 9 Secrets to Giving Effective Consequences & The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: "I Can't Solve Problems." Good luck to you and your family as you continue to work through this.

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

I have a 4 year old step son who constantly lies and does not listen. He hurts my daughter all the time and tells me he doesnt listen because I am not his mom. I do not understand what to do. His lies are about things like who broke the container? And he would blame it on my daughter kylee who is 2 years old. Sometimes it would be bad enough where he tells my daughter to hit him so she would get into trouble. I do not know what to do and nothing phases him. (spanking, taking things away, yelling, talking, spending quality time... nothing.) Please someone help me, it is driving me and my husband apart and I do not want to have my family torn apart over my 4 year old step son.

Comment By : sfurlich

My daughter lies to other people about her dad and me, saying that we abuse her. She came to us at 7 from a very abusive situation. We have given her all the love we can, but the lies are coming fast and furious. The professionals who deal with her know she lies, but it doesn't stop. Is there hope. or should we give up on having a decent relationship with her?

Comment By : jsfs

* To 'sfurlich': It is frustrating when you have a child in your home that lies and does not listen. With blended families, we find that it is most effective when the biological parent takes the lead in disciplining their child whenever possible, and the stepparent takes on more of a supportive role. With younger children, it can be effective to reward positive, effective behavior rather than focusing on consequences. For example, if he does a chore when you ask him to without arguing, then he might earn extra time with a favorite toy. It will also be helpful for you and your husband to get on the same page in terms of how you respond to his behavior so that it is about following the rules of the house, not your relationship with your stepson. I am including some articles you might find helpful:
“My Blended Family Won’t Blend—Help!” Part I: How You and Your Spouse Can Get on the Same Page
“My Blended Family Won’t Blend!” Part II: What to Do When Your Stepkids Disrespect You
Child Behavior Charts: How to Use Behavior Charts Effectively
Good luck to you and your family as you continue to work through this.

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

* To ‘jsfs’: James Lehman says it’s never too late to start parenting more effectively. You can make changes in the way you respond to your child’s behavior at any time. What would be helpful here is to talk to her daughter about her motivations for lying: what was she trying to accomplish? You can then talk about what she can do differently next time. Having problem-solving conversations like this with your daughter will give her the best chance possible to improve her behavior. Also, keep in mind that a teen’s brain continues to develop and mature even into the mid-twenties. I’m not sure how old your daughter is but it sounds like she’s still a teen and she still has a while to go before her brain reaches full maturity. Keep working with those local supports you have in place and take care of yourself too. We wish you luck as you work through this.

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

Why do people (adults) think that children and their behavior are such a mystery? Kids learn from the adult world.Adults lie, some drink, smoke, and use drugs. When adults model behavior that they condemn in children then they should prepare for the worst. Many kids, by the time they reach age 15, will figure out that adults are hypocrites. Kids need parents who are loving and supportive,not authoritarian and judgmental. Kids need parents who actually LISTEN to their kids and love their kids unconditionally. But the thing that amazes me most of all is this: parents who home educate their kids don't deal with the problems that families have from their public and private school kids.Go figure.

Comment By : reptilia5

My son is a T1 diabetic not only has he been lying about his blood sugars (he is 12) he is lying about his homework. My husband and I are at the end of our rope with him. He is ADHD and ADD with a diagnosis of ODD also. When we talk to him about it is just seems to go in one ear and out the other. We just don't know what to do. We explained the importance of his blood sugars and that he could die and he was caught doing it again. Where to go? Where to turn?

Comment By : loss T1 mama

* To ‘loss T1 mama’: It sounds like you are really concerned about the implications of your son’s behavior on his health if this keeps up. Many parents of diabetic children share similar concerns. Whenever your child has a specific medical condition, the best thing you can do is work closely with your son’s local treatment team. For example, speak with your son’s doctor to figure out the most effective way to handle your son’s lying about his blood sugar and how to best help him manage it effectively. You might even print out this article and take it with you to see if the techniques are appropriate for a child with Diabetes. It might also be helpful to try to locate a support group for kids and/or parents of children with Type 1 Diabetes in your area. You can search for support groups and other forms of local support by contacting 211, an information and referral service. You can reach them by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by visiting them online at www.211.org. We wish your family luck and hope that things improve soon. Take care.

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

Hi, my 7 yr old daughter is always lying about something, and nothing is ever her fault. Why? Most of the time she lies about things that are really not necisary, silly really. She wouldn't get into trouble for most things if she didn't lie. For instance, she couldn't find her bike helmet and couldn't remember where she put it so instead of telling us she couldn't remember she told us she was wearing it and left it at the front door. The next day I found it in my car and all of a suddon remembered I had grabbed out of her dads car and just threw it in mine making me at falt. So I appologized to her and took the blame. I asked her why she told me she was wearing it and put it in the house when she hadn't cause it was in the car the whole time she stuck to it and added more. She told me she must have thrown it in the car for some reason. But i just told I had done it. I don't get it why would she continue lying? After giving her several chances to come clean i gave up and grounded her and took away a sleepover for lying. Did i do the right thing? This is a regular thing it feels like I feel like I can't beleive anything she says big or little how do i teach her ? I want to trust her.

Comment By : fustrated mom

* To ‘frustrated mom’: Lying is a big button for many parents, something that upsets them very much. At your daughter’s age, lying is not uncommon. In fact, it’s very typical. As James Lehman states in the article, kids lie to solve a problem. For example, the problem might have been that she didn’t know her helmet was in the car and thought you would not let her ride her bike if she told you she wasn’t wearing her helmet. We recommend that you have regular problem-solving conversations with your daughter after you find out she has lied. We also suggest that you use a standard consequence that consists of the short term loss of a privilege, something that can be used every time, and not something that she can’t earn back. For example, an effective consequence for lying would be that she’s loses her bike for 30 minutes, or she loses TV for 45 minutes. While it feels like you need to meet the lying head-on with a big consequence that is not the case. What’s most important is that you are problem solving with her to teach her how to be more honest, and holding her accountable period. We know this is aggravating and we wish you luck as you continue to work through this.

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

my 17 year old is having same issues...my question is, what if you have taken everything away and she continues to lie...then what??? she has no cell phone, no tv, hasnt stayed the night with a friend in over a year because everytime we let her she pulls something. she just got accepted to a camp that was very hard to get into and we found a cell phone in her room (we didnt not give it to her) so we took the camp away and she doesnt seem to care

Comment By : bigmomma

* To “bigmomma”: Lying is an aggravating issue for most parents and also one that most parents have to deal with at one time or another. As upsetting as lying is, it’s not an uncommon behavior. As James Lehman states in the article, kids lie to solve a problem. We recommend that you have regular problem-solving conversations with your daughter when you find out she has lied. James suggests that you use a standard consequence that consists of the short term loss of a privilege, not something that she can’t earn back. It should be something that can be used every time. We wouldn’t suggest using something like the special camp because that isn’t something she can earn back nor is it something that can be used each time. It’s understandable you would feel the need to try to turn her behavior around by giving her big consequences. However, as James says, you can’t punish a child into better behavior. That’s usually not an effective way to address the problem. What’s going to be beneficial is helping her develop more effective problem-solving skills and consistently holding her accountable. We wish you luck as you and your family continue to work through this.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

My almost 9 year old son fabricates stories, he always twists them and the problem is he believes what he is saying is the truth! I have been in a couple of situations and he tells a completely different story than what happened. On top of this, he doesnt feel remorseful at all for his actions, and all of taking away privileges have not worked out, he just doesnt care! Last week instead of punishing him I explained I wont be talking to him because he lied again and how that upsets me (the fact that he lied not the situation itself), yet even that doesnt seem to get through! What next?

Comment By : Disappointed Mum

For years now my 12 year old son has been lying.and since the beginning I have been trying physical discipline yet he continues to lie. What proper disciplinary actions can I take to ensure he will get the message that he is not permitted to lie?

Comment By : football dad

* To football dad: Dealing with lying can be extremely frustrating, especially when it is a behavior you have been addressing for a long time. We frequently find that using physical forms of discipline does not teach kids what to do differently next time, and can further escalate power struggles. It is more effective to address this in a calm, business-like manner, and come up with a small, standard consequence that you can put in place each time you catch him lying, such as losing video games for 24 hours, then, if appropriate, we recommend problem-solving and giving a consequence for what he lied about. In this way, he will see that lying is not solving his problem; rather, lying is only adding to his problems. I am including some additional articles you might find helpful; take care.
How to Deal with Lying in Children and Teens
The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: "I Can't Solve Problems"

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

* To Disappointed Mum: It is exasperating to have a child who not only frequently lies, but also does not appear to have any remorse about it! It is pretty normal for kids to lie and make up stories, especially if the made-up story is something that they wish were true, or is more exciting than what actually happened. Instead of trying to make him feel bad or regret about lying, we recommend addressing this in a calm, business-like manner, and coming up with a small, standard consequence that you can put in place each time you catch him lying, such as losing television for 24 hours; then, if appropriate, we recommend problem-solving and giving a consequence for what he lied about. I am including an article I think you might find helpful in addressing this. We wish you the best; take care.
How to Deal with Lying in Children and Teens

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

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