“My 17 year old son lies all the time,” a mother said to me recently. “He lies about his schoolwork, what he ate for lunch and whether or not he’s brushed his teeth. He also exaggerates to make his stories more dramatic or to make himself sound bigger.

It’s come to the point where I don’t take anything he says at face value. He’s not a bad kid, but I just don’t understand why he lies so often, especially when telling the truth would be easier. What should I do?”

By acknowledging the lie without moralizing or lecturing, you are sending a powerful message to your child that being dishonest won’t get them what they want

Dealing with lying is frustrating and confusing for many parents. Unfortunately, teens and pre-teens often lie or tell only part of the truth. James Lehman explains that kids lie for many reasons: to cover their tracks, to get out of something they don’t want to do, and to fit in with their peers.

Sometimes kids tell white lies to protect other people. I’ve heard my stepson claim a “bad connection” while speaking to a relative on the phone, rather than simply telling them, “I don’t want to talk right now.” When asked, he says he doesn’t want to hurt that person’s feelings by saying he wanted to get off the phone. Simply put, it was just easier to lie.

Some teens develop the habit of telling half-truths or exaggerating about things that seem completely irrelevant or unnecessary. They might think it will get them what they want, or get them out of a sticky situation. Like many adults, kids can also be less than honest at times because they think the truth isn’t interesting enough. They may lie as a way to get attention, to make themselves seem more powerful or attractive to others, to get sympathy or support, or because they lack problem-solving skills.

Lying about Risky or Dangerous Behavior
It’s important to differentiate here between lies that cover up for drug use or other risky behavior, as opposed to “every day lies” that some teens tell just as a matter of habit or convenience. Make no mistake, lying that results in, or covers for, unsafe or illegal behavior must be addressed directly. If your child is lying about things that might be dangerous, involving drug or alcohol use, stealing, or other risky behavior, seek resources and support in your local community.

Why Doesn’t My Child Care that Lying is Wrong?
Adolescence is such a tough time: trying to fit in, feeling unfairly judged or limited, wanting to be seen as powerful even while you feel completely powerless. Teens and pre-teens are navigating some pretty challenging waters. For some, lying can seem like an easy way to deal with the stress of being a teenager. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, an occasional fib from a child is nothing to get too concerned about. Chronic dishonesty and exaggeration, on the other hand, should be addressed – but maybe not in the ways you think.

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We talk with many people on the who feel that lying is a moral issue. But even so, as James advises, treating it that way is not likely to help solve the problem. When your child tells a lie, giving a lecture about why it’s wrong is probably not going to help them change their behavior. Most of the time, they’re tuning out our words of wisdom anyway! On the other hand, if you feel that your child is making a habit of lying, you need to acknowledge what you see happening. Open a discussion with them and find out what problem they are trying to solve. Are they trying to avoid trouble? Do they think it’s easier to lie than to risk hurting someone else? Do they believe that saying something dishonest helps them fit in? When they answer you, listen to what they have to say carefully.

Related content: How to Deal with Lying in Children and Teens

When Kids Lie to Get out of Trouble
In The Total Transformation Program, James points out that most kids lie because it’s expedient—it seems like the best decision at that time. Once you understand what your child is hoping to gain from lying, you can help them come up with a better problem-solving strategy. If your child is being untruthful to get out of trouble—for example, telling you that they took out the trash when they really didn’t—clearly state the rules of your house, and the consequences for breaking those rules. Remind them that they don’t have to like the rules, but they do need to comply with them. You might also tell your child that if they break a rule and lie about it, there will be a separate consequence for lying. (For more information on how to do this, please see James Lehman’s article Why Kids Lie and What To Do About It.)

Exaggerating and Lying for the Sake of Lying
If your child isn’t simply lying to keep out of trouble, you might have to dig a little deeper to find out what’s going on. Start by saying, “I notice that you often lie about things that seem strange to me. For example, when I asked you where the phone was, you said ‘I don’t know, I don’t have it,’ and then I found it in your room. You wouldn’t have been in trouble if you’d told the truth. Can you tell me why you lied about it?” If your child is exaggerating a story, you might ask, “I was interested in your story, and then it seemed like you started to add things to it that weren’t true. Can you tell me why you decided to do that?”

Now I realize you may not get a great answer from your child. From some teens, a shrug is the best response you can hope for. But by acknowledging the lie without moralizing or lecturing, you are sending a powerful message to your child that being dishonest won’t get them what they want. You are also letting them know that you are aware of the fact that they were being less than truthful.

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Kids often don’t understand how hurtful lies can be. Still, you need to remind them that not knowing doesn’t make it okay. Start a discussion with your child about honesty and dishonesty, and why they choose to lie. And remember, focus on the problem your child is trying to solve instead of on the morality of lying. You may not be able to stop your teen from creating those every day lies, but you can send the message that there are other options available.

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Megan Devine is a licensed clinical therapist, former Empowering Parents Parent Coach, speaker and writer. She is also the bonus-parent to a successfully launched young man. You can find more of her work at refugeingrief.com, where she advocates for new ways to live with grief.

Comments (43)
  • Maura
    My son just turned 17 and there has been an issue w compulsive/ pathological lying online for years.( I just discovered this after looking through his phone). He has thread after thread on discord about all the things I believe he doesn’t do… drinking, sex, drugs, etc. He alsoMore lies about being things that he’s not such as a great hockey player , perfect A student at school( he’s a good student though usually)and like saying he has a Rolex or that type of thing. He blows all the money from his job on online chests for video games and then gets banned. I believe there is an addiction there? And when you try and just communicate he looks dead in the eyes and as if he’s looking through you. I’m not dealing with this well… any and all help is greatly appreciated! Thank you!
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story. I can understand your distress. Lying is a big button issue for a lot of parents and it can cause them to have great concern for their child's future. As Janet Lehman explains in her article (https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-deal-with-lying-in-children-and-teens/), two reasons kids may lie is to establish identity and for attention - that may be what you're seeing here. Lying can be a tough behavior to address head on, after all, you're not always going to know when your son is lying, especially since it seems most of it is online or with his peers. You can hold him accountable for choices or behaviors he lies about to you. You want to focus on the behavior not the lie. You can read more about how to do that in these articles: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-caught-my-child-lying-how-to-manage-sneaky-behavior-in-kids/ & https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-lying/.

      We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Take care.

  • Justine L

    My son is 12 and will be 13 in Sept. For the last three years or so we have had issues with him lying, stealing and showing no remorse for any of it.

    We have tried everything we can think of and are lost at this point. We love our son, my husband has given up on helping him, but he is our child and I feel I can't give up. I feel I have to find a solution for the lying, stealing and no remorse.

    My husband believes at this point he is a pathological liar and nothing can be done. We have banned him to his room with nothing but a blanket, pillow, ater bottle, Bible and another book, telling him he can only come out of his room to use the bathroom. (Now of course he comes and sits at the dining room table for his meals.)

    We have talked to our youth pastor and our son also attends youth group, but that is not working.

    He has stolen money from me, sneaking my bank card out of my purse after we are in bed at night and used it to purchase an item for an online video game. He recently used his 9 year old brother's Walmart gift card to buy a gaming remote.

    Any resources to help us help our son would be greatly appreciated 🙏

    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out to Empowering Parents. I can understand your concern. It sounds like your son is exhibiting several concerning behaviors. It will be most productive to focus on just one behavior at a time. Trying to address too many things at once can be overwhelming, for both the parent and the child. Because getting started can be challenging for many parents, I often recommend making a prioritized list of all the behaviors you are dealing with, and then focusing on just 1-2 of the most disruptive behaviors at a time. This allows you to be consistent with limit setting and accountability, without becoming overwhelmed. For more helpful tools, please check out this article: How to Create a Culture of Accountability in Your Home (https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-create-a-culture-of-accountability-in-your-home/).

      We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • Julissa C
    My son Liam will be 15 in July.He lies eveyday for his life.He lies about whether he did homework or not. He lies whether he did his morning routine. I never believe what he does. I read him the story "The boy who cried wolf" all the time forMore him to learn his lesson. And I also say to him "Behave like a 15-year-old, not a 5-year-old." I want my Liam to always tell the truth and never lie. Any ideas about this? Let me know.
  • Loosing Hope and Patience

    My daughter (18) has been lying to me and her step-dad in what seems like almost everything and I do mean everything. We've taken her phone for a set amount of time, we've taken her car and even said no to events or plans that she originally had planned. She is lazy, having trouble making/keeping friends and then as expected gets mad/angry/disrespectful when we take things from her.

    She lies about the smallest of things and big things as well. She tries to manipulate me and will say sorry and cry but doesn't change her behavior. She does great in school, she will be going off to college in the Fall 2023. She doesn't want to take responsibility for the simple chores or daily activities that she partially does or just doesn't do at all.

    She behaves great and is adored by everyone else outside of the house. She has low self-esteem, despite being beautiful (when she tries). She is showing laziness in the extreme and serious lack of motivation except for school work.

    I am scared of loosing my daughter, I don't want to have a bad relationship with her, as a daughter of a diagnosed NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) Mother who had to set hard boundaries and after 45 years choosing to not have a close relationship with my Mother it makes me super sensitive to that possibility.

    Everyone keeps telling me that "that is just teenage girls these days" or "That is just how they are, they will grow out of it". But can the destruction and pain be healed that she leaves me and her step-dad with?

    He is ready for Tough Love and taking away just about everything except the very basics. She is hiding in her room pouting and feeling sorry for herself.

    Any advice or encouragement would be greatly appreciated.

    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Welcome to Empowering Parents. I can understand your frustration and concern. The transition from minor child to adult can be a challenging one for both parents and older teens. We hear from many parents of adult children experiencing similar issues. We have a few articles (including a free living agreement) that you may find helpful here:

      https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/ages-and-stages/adult-children/. Thanks for reaching out. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • no name

    It's a small ray of hope to find that I am not the only parent dealing with chronic lying in a teen. My daughter's lying started around 6th grade. And while we've had numerous discussions with her, she still lies. When caught in the lie, she simply shifts - but never backs down from her falsehoods.

    Though she lies about things large and small, it's the outrageous lies that have brought us to grief. It seems like she uses these lies when she is stressed and when she wants peers to see her as special. So many of these outrageous lies -- it seems like no one would ever take them seriously (her ethnicity, her wealth, her travels, a Cinderella-type story where her younger sibling is preferred and she is being mistreated and sent to a foreign boarding school).

    But as she has aged, her outrageous lies have taken on a more sophisticated tenor, but she has not foreseen their consequences. One of these was reported to her school counselor. After a concerned call from the counselor (my daughter denied the lie when directly questioned by the school counselor and got angry at the person who reported it to the school counselor), I took my daughter to a therapist. I was very honest with the therapist about my teen's stresses and her history of lying. We need help!!! Help with the stresses, help with my teen being authentic, and a safe place for my teen to get help and advice from a trusted adult because my parental advice is shrugged off.

    But *presto*, three sessions in, my daughter has painted a picture for the therapist that she's homosexual and living in a fundamentalist Christian family (we attend church about twice a year). It's like some magic words have been spoken, and the therapy immediately shifts its focus to the big-bad parent. I get called into the office for a shared session, without being forewarned of the topic, and counselled about allowing my daughter to be herself as to her sexuality! I don't care what my teen's sexuality is--I just want her to be authentic and deal better with stress.

    It's crazy-making! The therapist cannot tell me what my teen is saying in therapy without my teen's permission, but apparently feels free to counsel me (in front of my teen) to just let my teen experiment because that's what teenage years are for. Well, therapist, last year my daughter was telling people she was President Trump's disapproving niece spending the summer on a yacht in the Mediterranean!

    Flash forward a grade, and now my teen has proclaimed herself *straight.* She's still telling small lies and exaggerations regularly. And she continues with big lies, too. I feel so let down--we needed help. We still need help. Everyone in the family is suffering in some degree. But I don't know where to find a therapist who is experienced in this. We are beyond discouraged and tired.

    • SalemTraveller
      Thank you for sharing your story. It looks like it has been a hard road for you and your daughter. I can imagine how frustrating it is to live with a child that comes up with stories that are simply not true. it looks like a better qualified therapist willMore help your daughter identify the reasons why she is coming up with the ridiculous stories to draw attention to her or maybe something else. The incident with the therapist lecturing you about not letting your child be her “authentic self” is outrageous but not uncommon in these days. You daughter also seemed to figure our the “get out of jail card” with her therapist. So be sure to find one that is more qualified. One thing for sure, it not your fault and with a better therapist and hopefully your daughter’s cooperation, she can get help she needs and you get some peace.
  • F mcgee
    Perhaps you need to seek someone to talk tomlike a therapist as I am sure there are reasons you feel like this, perhaps you where bullied too or where lonely. For him find someone for him to talk to to be an outlet. Doesn't make you badMore in fact it shows you care enough to build him a support system
  • Loving Mama
    I am so sad right now! My son just turned 13 and boy am I being tried just about every week. Just a few weeks into the school year he was bullied in the restroom by three sophomore students who video taped him in a bathroom stall and uploaded itMore to Snapchat. I was upset with the school for making light of the situation so I went to the media...and I have been very active trying to ensure this never happens to him again or any other child. My child has always felt I was overprotective and said I make it hard for him to talk to. I know that I am the Peter Brady type mom, I will discipline him but also explain why I upset and how he needs to pay attention to how he handles himself because he is entering manhood. My son is my heart, I truly am wondering what I have done wrong. If he can't talk to me, does that mean he is experiencing issues and feels alone.....I sadly feel that is the case. I try to talk about things alot calmer than I used to but I'm afraid he just remembers the past when I probably would be way more aggressive with discipline than I am now, I truthfully acknowledge that. I am on the fence because I know he is a good kid, he really is, but he is going through some growing pains that are causing him to not know how to handle his emotions I feel. I am trying my best to guide him in the correct direction but he takes my words like I'm just fussing for nothing. I know when he is lying, I know when he is being sneaky, he is my kid I know! He just feels so convicted when I call him on it, and as I tell him, he should! We are not supposed to feel good when we get caught up for making a bad decision! We should feel bad, and try not to do it again! That's the goal! I need help...I really love my baby, and I don't want a strained relationship with him
  • SN_79

    I am a working mom & I have 2 sons, elder one 10yrs

    & younger 6.5yrs. My parents stay with us to take care of my kids.

    My elder son is fairly decent in his studies, in the top 30%

    of his class. He rarely lied about anything & even if he did, he could not sustain

    it & used to blurt out the truth. Recently I am seeing a change in his

    behaviour & today, it broke my heart. My elder son, some 4-5 days ago, came

    back from school telling that some prize winner’s list has been put up in

    school & the teacher has told he has come 3rd in his class &

    he is might get a prize.  We were

    pleasantly surprised & wondered how it was possible but still believed him

    & asked him to check the list properly & come & tell us. He came

    home next school day & told us that he has come 1st in class

    & the teacher has made everyone clap for him. In fact, he told he has come

    3rd in the entire standard in school. He also told all the teachers

    congratulated him except his English & History teachers (he told that its

    because they don’t like him). He also told the Prize distribution day is in

    January & the teacher will inform the date. He said his classmate who came

    2nd told him that he will beat him the next time & that his

    other friends were angry with him as he came 1st. We genuinely

    believed all what he told us. Today, out of curiosity, I went to check on the school

    website where they update every child’s progress report. I was shocked to see

    that he is not 1st in his class, he is 17th. I thought

    maybe he has won for something else, so went to check in his school &

    though, there was a list of the toppers of every class, his name was not there.

    Nor was there any other list for any other prize winners. I went to his class

    & asked him to show where the list is, he told me it has been taken down

    & he doesn’t know whether he has won any prize & he will explain after

    he comes home. He told me to go away & asked me why I had come there. I

    told him I will ask his teacher what prize he has won but he begged me not to.

    However, after he went back, I went to check with his class teacher & she

    told that the prize winners list is on the notice board & if his name is

    not there, he has not won any prize.

    I am shocked & feeling completely low right now. We have

    never pressurized him to get any rank or prize. Yes we told him we want him to

    do well & get prizes but we never did we scold him if he has not got any

    prize. I am unable to understand why did he cook up such a big story? We were

    not even aware that any prize winners are going to be announced nor did we ask

    him anytime about it. I don’t know how to handle this issue now!

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear you. 

      It’s normal to feel hurt and shocked when you discover that your child has lied

      to you for no apparent reason.  At the same time, I encourage you to try

      your best not to take his behavior personally.  The truth is, lying is a

      pretty normal behavior which many kids (and adults) will engage in from time to

      time to solve some kind of problem, such as avoiding a consequence or to smooth

      over a social situation.  It’s also not uncommon for kids your son’s age

      to tell stories such as this, because they wish the story was true or because

      they desire the attention that comes along with such achievements.  At

      this point, it could be useful to talk with him during a calm time about his choice

      to lie, and how he could have handled this situation differently with more

      honesty.  You can find more tips on how to address this in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-deal-with-lying-in-children-and-teens/.  Please be sure to write

      back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take


  • EdaPrincess
    My 13yr. Old daugter lies about EVERYTHING! Its so frustrating knowing shes lying to me and im at my wits in. Shes been in counseling for 3 years now NO RESULTS! I dont even know if what she is discussing with the counslor is even what the real issues are,More because she lies so much. Also, is it normal that im not supposed to ask her what was discussed in the session? Not that she would tell the truth, but i try to abide by what the professionals say is best. Anyone have any further suggestions. Ive taken her phone which doesnt seem to phase her. This is ridiclious! Also, i must add im a single mom who had her as a teenager. I feel i have an even bigger struggle without any male authority. Please someone that rules with an iron fist help! I need a drill sergent at this point.Btw thx mom for cursing me with the "when u have a daughter shes going to be 3xs worse than you" speech. You jinxed me!!
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Lying can be such a

      challenging issue for many parents, so you are not alone.  As Megan points

      out in the above article, it tends to be more effective to view lying as a

      faulty problem-solving skill, rather than a character issue or a moral

      failing.  The truth is, all of us (adults and kids alike) lie from time to

      time to resolve some kind of issue we are facing.  Helping her to develop

      more https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ can be useful in addressing the ongoing

      dishonesty.  You might also find some useful tips in our article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/its-never-too-late-7-ways-to-start-parenting-more-effectively/.  Please be

      sure to write back and let us know how things are going with you and your

      daughter.  Take care.

  • Ellie

    I'm a 15 year old going into sophomore year this September and last night I took my moms charger because I need to borrow it but forgot to put it back when she confronted me I lied saying a didn't take it. I don't understand why i didn't just say that I had borrowed it? Later she told me

    She knew I had lied and I got defensive and almost lied again. She wants to know why i lied but i don't honestly know. Any advice or comments?

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

      sharing your story. I hear how confused you are by your decision to lie to your

      mom, and how much you want to understand the choice you made.  Because we

      are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are

      limited in the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct

      parenting role.  Another resource which might be more useful to you is the

      Boys Town National Hotline, which you can reach by calling 1-800-448-3000,

      24/7. They have trained counselors who talk with kids, teens and young adults

      everyday about issues they are facing, and they can help you to look at your

      options and come up with a plan.  They also have options to communicate

      via text, email, and live chat which you can find on their website, http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/ We wish you

      the best going forward. Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

    sharing your story. I hear your concern about your sister’s constant lying, and

    how much you want this to stop.  Because we are a website aimed at helping

    people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and

    suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role. 

    Another resource which might be more useful to you is the Boys Town National

    Hotline, which you can reach by calling 1-800-448-3000, 24/7. They have trained

    counselors who talk with kids, teens and young adults everyday about issues

    they are facing, and they can help you to look at your options and come up with

    a plan.  They also have options to communicate via text, email, and live

    chat which you can find on their website, http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/ We wish you

    the best going forward. Take care.

  • Claire

    I recently discovered that my 15 year old son is telling lies to his friends. He's said we went on holiday to Greece and we went to Devon. Said he's  been to lots of rock concerts and he's been to one and also said he's got 10 guitars and loads of equipment when he hasn't.

    He doesn't know that I've found this out.

    How do tackle this, please help.

    • Darlene EP


      It is understandable you are

      looking for ways to address your son’s lying and exaggerating. It can be very

      confusing and frustrating for a parent when they discover their child has been

      lying. While lying is not okay, it is a pretty common way kids try to fit in

      with their peers and try to be accepted. We would recommend being upfront and

      honest with your son about what you found out. Then let him know that lying is

      not an effective way to solve his problem. With it comes the potential

      consequence of his friends finding out the truth and not trusting him anymore.

      Focus on the ineffective problem solving aspect of this rather than making it a

      moral issue. Have a conversation about what he can do instead when he is

      tempted to exaggerate the truth or try to impress his friends.  Another

      great article to check out on this topic is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-deal-with-lying-in-children-and-teens/. I hope this helps to give you

      some direction in dealing with this. Thank you for writing in. Take care.

  • Confused
    Hello, I am a step father to a 12 year old girl. I have been her father figure for 7 years , but for the last year things have changed. She used to call me dad, she used to ask me to tuck her in and tell me she lovesMore me. 6 months ago I got her a cell phone, and her entire personality has changed. She constantly lies, she calls me by my fiirst name, she does what ever she wants and ignores me and her mothers requests to stop her negative attitude. She came to me to "block" her friend on her cell phone, but instead I texted him saying it was me... To stop texting and calling for awhile, because I didn't want to block him. They have argued before and always made up. He tells me they are fighting because she is iin snap chat and meeting up with older men for sex. I took her phone away, and searched it to find that she regularly resets her phone to clean the history. With only two days of history to look at, I found chats with older boys and men full of obvious lies. She has been claiming she was in a gang, stabbed someone, pregnant , was from Sweden, using drugs, and I found a posted video of her smoking weed. We live in a rural area, there are no gangs here and she isn't from Sweden. She most curtainly hasn't stabbed anyone. She created 15 diferent email accounts all with diferent identities on diferent chat apps. Each of her alter personalities has bad habits, like drugs, violence, stealing or criminal behavior. I am confused and don't know what to do. It is possible that she has been having sex, but with so many lies it's impossible to Figure out what's the real source of this strange behavior. Most kids pretend to be something more than what they are, creating the live they wish they had. She is creating horrible lives for herself online, does this mean she wishes she could be a drug using criminal? I am so confused. I want to give her back her phone, but she was chatting with grown men. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
    • Sophie
      I don't think she's necessarily describing at all the life she wants or is moving towards. I think she's lying to try and seem mature, interesting, and worthy of sympathy (one of kids' favourite forms of attention). My 15-year-old sister does slightly similar things - she has tons of onlineMore friends (all girls her age), and they all make claims to each other that they are from abusive homes or they have serious mental/physical illness or are suicidal, and almost all of it is lies. My sister told her friends that she was hospitalized 4 times for suicide attempts (complete lie) and that we abuse her (also complete lie, we are a very close and caring family) and I think that after lying so much, she's starting to believe her own lies (that she's an abused child with a monstrous family) and create a fake life that she lives out through her contact with those friends. While doing so, she's become more detached from us. I think your step-daughter is enjoying weaving stories about herself and getting attention from that, and is becoming absorbed in it. She's 12, she doesn't need a phone at all, and clearly isn't near mature enough for one. Being too strict can make teenagers worse, but giving them what they want (even when it's bad for them) isn't the answer either. I'm no expert, but I think you need to break through that fake life she's created, and sit her down with you and her mother to discuss things with her. Tell her what you know about what she's been saying, why you're so concerned, and that you love/support her; sometimes deeply hurt honesty will shake kids out of their lie and encourage them to tell you the truth, or at least admit the lies. Try to spend more family time together to enforce the fact that she has support.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    Sherry family 

    Thank you for writing in.  It must have been quite

    disconcerting to hear your daughter speak of having a troubled relationship

    with her father when that has not been your experience in raising her.  As

    Megan points out in the article above, kids and teens will often use lying as a

    way to solve some sort of social problem, such as fitting in with others, or

    portraying a certain image of themselves.  The most effective way to

    address this with her will be to talk directly and calmly about what she

    said.  For example, you might say something like, “I was surprised when I

    heard you talk at church about your relationship with Dad.  Can you tell

    me a bit more about what was going on for you when you decided to say

    that?”  I recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I hope you

    will write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.

    Take care.

  • Colleen2680
    My daughter is 12. She has been caught in lies since she was little. I thought these were phases as mostly they were when she was young (6-9) but now she lies about little things that aren't even relevant, things she wouldn't even get into trouble for. Example being, IMore took her to get her hair and nails done, I tell her if she wants me to style it I would but she would have to wash her hair because she hadn't rinsed out all of the conditioner from her morning shower and her hair was greasy. She came to me about a 1/2 hour later and asked if I liked her hair she styled herself, I said yes you did a good job but did you shower because that part of your hair still looks greasy. Her reply was yes I showered. I knew she was lying. She didn't have to take another shower I just had recommended it, but she chose to lie. Also just now I asked her to collect her clothes that didn't fit her anymore and to put into a pile for goodwill. There was a pair of long Marvel Comic socks that I believe she got as a gift or something which still had the tags on them and were folded with the plastic tab going through the center so they weren't separated. So clearly she had never even unfolded them. I ask if she meant to throw them in there or if she just didn't want them because I would give them to my friend if not as she likes these silly socks. She looks up at me and says they don't fit. I said how do you know? Clearly I knew they still had the plastic tab through them so I knew that was impossible. She stated I tried them on. So then I showed her the tab and she clearly tried to back peddle and was saying ummm I uhhhhhh oh I must have been thinking of a different pair. When confronting her about the lie and why would she lie about such a small thing I get shrugs and the answer I don't know. She's lied about bigger things to that I know for a fact it is her that has done something and she blatenly denies it until you lecture and yell and point out that someone else is being punished for what she did. Then she will admit it. I understand all kids lie and I did as a kid to prevent getting into trouble, when I was backed into a corner or to save my own butt. But lying on a daily basis over nothing, during a normal conversation? I've lectured, yelled, taken things away, grounded her. And she continues almost on a daily basis. Should I take her to counseling? It's causing me stress and when confronted she cries and says she's sorry but continues to do it. I want to try to correct and teach her the importance of truth before she's 15 or 16 and it becomes a bigger issue.
    • BethCaroline
      This is my son exactly!!! Please email me. I don't even care I'm putting my email out there. I am at my end. He is the same started lying about insignificant things at 5 or 6. Still to this day, he's 11, does the same. I have tried itMore all. I feel he has very little remorse and doesn't truly grasp the concept of "it was the lie that got you in trouble, not the action." I have said this until I am blue! I am on the counseling question too. I have 3 other children that don't behave or act this way. I would love to chat. My email is Bethbenitez60@gmail.com..
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be so frustrating when a child seems to lie

      constantly over small issues.  You are not alone in feeling this

      way.  As Megan points out in the article above, it can be helpful to talk

      with your daughter during a calm time after you have caught her in a lie. 

      You might say something like, “I’m curious about what was going on for you when

      you lied to me about washing your hair.  Could you tell me about

      that?”  In addition, you might also consider coming up with a standard,

      small consequence you can implement each time you know for certain that she has

      lied to get out of trouble.  As for your question about counseling,

      sometimes it can be helpful to work with someone locally when you are trying to

      address a long-standing issue such as lying.  For assistance locating

      someone in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  Please let us know if you have any additional

      questions.  Take care.

  • Mollyesmirh
    My daughter 15 lies too much and causes fights with the family. She tells my husband talk tales and strains our marriage. She's rode home from school in teacher cars, been late, lied about web sites she's been on. I try to talk calmly tell her I lover herMore and understand, than she plays my husband and me , crowd and tells people out personal business and makes us look bad. How can I just ignore it I try to punish her but I took her computer away and she called cys. I'm at my word end we don't have a lot and if she can't go to a movie concert she throws a for tells people we keep her captive and are mean. We do what we can we aren't millionares. Help.
    • Marissa EP



      Empowering Parents, we receive many questions from concerned parents about

      lying. The reality is, lying is often a faulty problem solving tool designed to

      cover up for another rule or rules that have been broken. Despite how it may

      feel, lying is not a personal attack on you, or a moral or character issue in

      your child. I would encourage you to take a look at the behaviors your daughter

      is lying about, rather than putting

      all the focus on the lying, itself. Rather than focusing on the fact that she

      lied about being late or lied about the websites she was on, focus on the fact

      that she broke the rule about what time she was supposed to be home, or broke

      the rule and went on restricted websites to begin with, and hold her

      accountable for those. Lying about those behaviors is merely her way of

      covering up the fact that she broke those rules, to begin with. James Lehman,

      creator of the https://www.empoweringparents.com/product/total-transformation-program/ program, talks more about this in his article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/why-kids-tell-lies-and-what-to-do-about-it/. Good luck to you and your family as

      you continue to work on this with your daughter.

  • Chinocffc

    My daughter is a beautiful 15 year old. I found out she had a boyfriend. I was upset but felt that I had to be OK with it.

    We then talked formally about it (with my daughter and wife) to help be open with everything so she wouldn't feel the need to lie or do anything behind our back.

    School ended for summer and my daughter has a female friend who often comes over.

    Within a week of school being out, her friend spends the night. The following morning they ask if they can go to the mall (after all we're all being honest about everything right). I said yes as long as my mom (who lives with me) can pick her up from the mall in 2 hours because I work graveyard and I had just got home from work.

    On my way to taking the girls I asked her sarcastically "your not meeting any boys over there are you?" They both said no.

    About 2 weeks later my wife finds her on the phone late at night when she shouldn't be, my wife takes away the phone and grounds her from it.

    My wife begins to go throw all messages and it turns out that my daughter and her friend have both lied to me to my face. They both met up with their boyfriends.

    My wife and I took all privileges away from our daughter and she cried and said sorry (which I'm sure the apology was a lie too).

    Now just tonight my wife calls me while I'm at work stating that my daughter had dug up 1 of our old cell phones... connected it to the WiFi at the house and has been communicating with her boyfriend and female friend for the past 3 days.

    During this time she managed to sneak out of the leave the house to walk our dog, not knowing that she still has means of communicating with her boyfriend, and meets with him for about 15 minutes while I'm sleeping.

    I'm afraid of what might become of this and could really use some advise.

    • Darlene EP


      I can understand your

      frustration and concern. It certainly is not okay that your daughter is lying

      to you, but it does not surprise me that she is. It sounds like she is in a

      situation where sneaking and lying is worth it to be able to communicate with

      her friends and boyfriend  because in her mind she does not have an

      alternative way to solve her problem. When kids are grounded, or everything is

      taken away for an indefinite period of time or a long period of time, it is not

      uncommon for kids to sneak and lie as a way to solve their problem. At your

      daughter’s age, her social interactions with friend’s and her boyfriend are

      going to be her priority. Instead of taking everything away as a way to get her

      to change her behavior, we recommend keeping consequences short term and

      coaching her on ways she can solve her problem differently. You may want to

      consider allowing supervised time with her boyfriend, that way you can monitor

      the situation, and she will be less likely to lie to you about where she is or

      who she is with. Another article I would encourage you to check out on this

      topic is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-deal-with-lying-in-children-and-teens/. I know this is difficult to be

      dealing with. Thank you for reaching out. Take care.

  • Esme

    My boyfriend has huge anger issues, he's been divorced for almost 15 years and has 3 kids. He teenage daughter is a real problem, but I think he's caused a lot of it. Anyway, I've left my boyfriend because of his anger issues and just today I found out the reason he was raging mad this last time. Turns out his 16 year old daughter was jealous and angry at me for catching her in a lie. So she turned around and lied to her mother, accusing me of saying bad things about her mother, her mother then called my then boyfriend and ripped him a new hole, he then stewed and steamed and became enraged at me so I left the relationship, before I found out the cause of his anger. So now this kid , had his anger not been an issue, has destroyed her father's relationship and of course he let it.

    But now I'm really upset. I've been made out to be some villain. How do I let this go and not get it resolved? I have no intention of returning to that relationship plus he would never support me against his 'princess' and yet my brain wants justice. Irrational I know but there you have it.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

      sharing your story.  I can hear how upset you are with the way you were

      portrayed by your ex-boyfriend’s daughter to her mother, along with his anger

      issues and the way this was communicated to you. Because we are a website aimed

      at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice

      and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role. It may

      be helpful to look into local resources to help you develop a plan for

      addressing your particular issues. The 211 National Helpline is a referral

      service available 24 hours a day, nationwide. They can give you information on

      the types of support services available in your area such as counselors,

      therapists, support groups as well as various other resources. You can reach

      the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto 211.org. We wish you

      the best going forward. Take care.

  • Leanteen
    I'm a 15 year old boy and I am trying to figure out why I lie.  This year around january, I got into a slump and let all of my homework pile up.  I lied about not having any homework.  I was caught and then was grounded for two months.More  I got ungrounded around the end of February.  I hadn't had any reason to lie.  Two days ago, I got in trouble because I was bringing my tablet to school for about a month when I was told not to bring it.  I know I wasn't supposed to, but I wanted to do my own thing.  When my mom asked if i remember that rule, I said i did not, but she knew i was lying.  Now my parents are saying I am going to be grounded for two years until I move out of the house.  My mom says that I will be punished until I never think about lying ever again.  In my head, I am thinking, I know I will lie again, I am a teenger.  I do not know when, but I know I will do it again because I want to do something that I want to do.  I never get to tell my parents this because they never let me talk.  I know why lying is bad, but I get caught in it sometimes. I get conflicted in how my dad says why do you lie and not care about anything.  His question is so vague, I never know how to answer and I freeze up.  I don't know what to do from here.  I need some type of guidance or advice
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Thank you for writing in with your question.  Because

      our site is designed for parents who are experiencing behavior issues with a

      child, we are limited with the advice we can offer to you for your

      situation.  Another resource which could be more helpful is the Boys Town

      National Hotline.  Their staff are better able to answer questions which

      arise for teens in their families, and could talk with you about your options

      for how you can be more honest in the future, as well as how to handle conflict

      with your parents.  You can call 24/7 at 1-800-448-3000, or visit their

      website at http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/. 

      They also offer chat, text and email options for support through their

      website.  Take care.

  • glamazon
    I'm not sure if you can offer any advice here or not....I'm so beat down right now and am feeling defeated. I have an 11 yr old son that has always been a habitual liar persay. I've always caught him in them, and always talked to him about the importanceMore of why not to lie, and the disrespect it is, and how telling the truth is much easier and less consequences. Well, this past few months he's stolen credit cards for online games, he broken into our room and stolen his step dad's work iphone....I was furious last night when I found he had stolen items out of our room, my things and hid them in his bathroom. We caught him with dad's work phone, after noticing it was missing and asking him where it was ,he stated I didn't go in your room, then we called the phone and he hid it in his room behind DVD receiver. We have taken away all electronic devices and he will be writing sentences today. He states he's learned these behaviors from kids at school, and some are daring him to do things at school to that are getting him in to trouble. So I'm going to talk to school counselor and principal this week....I just feel like I have failed as a mom...I'vE never taught these behaviors or done them, so I'm so heartbroken over his decisions and now cannot trust him......any advice or suggestions? His dad is old school and really wanted to bust his butt, but my son is one that that kind of punishment doesnt work on him. I've always tried talking to him, but that doesn't seem to be working either.....I have my hands up....help..
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I hear you. It can feel very defeating when your child makes

      choices that are so completely the opposite of how he’s been raised. I think it

      can be helpful to know that behaviors such as lying and stealing aren’t really

      reflections of poor morals or poor upbringing. They’re linked to a child’s poor

      problem solving and/or coping skills. When a child is faced with the probability

      of getting in trouble and being given consequences, he will often lie in an

      attempt to avoid that. While lying is never OK, it’s also not uncommon. The

      most effective way of addressing this situation is by holding him accountable

      and also helping him develop better problem solving skills. We do have a couple

      articles that you may find helpful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-caught-my-child-lying-how-to-manage-sneaky-behavior-in-kids/ & https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/. Best of

      luck to you and your family as you work through this tough issue. Take care.

  • ncc
    My 13 year old daughter has been lying about herself for several weeks now to her peers. (she is ADD) Starting with spring break she started telling people she had sex with someone, which wasn't true, that she drinks, which again isn't true (but she has had a sip ofMore beer and a few sips of wine) She has sent either partially nude or nude photos of herself to about 3 people. All of this behavior has gotten her grounded for 6 months, no phone or internet access, loss of trust and loss of friends. Two nights ago, I find a note between her and another girl where she is, again, talking about drinking and having sex with a boy. I know this is all for attention and her dad and I are divorced but try to co-parent, which isn't easy. He wants to come down on her really hard again about this but she was after several days of her refusing to talk to me, she finally started opening up about some of this last night. Now I am unsure of 1) how to get him off the ledge and realize that none of it is true and 2) how to get her to understand how damaging this is to her and everyone around her.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I understand your concern. It can be worrisome when your

      child makes choices you know could result in serious consequences. The

      unfortunate thing is you can’t make someone else see things the same way you do

      nor understand things from your perspective. The best you can do in this

      situation is hold your daughter accountable for her choices while also working

      to help her develop the skills to handle these situations more appropriately in

      the future. We have a couple articles that may offer you some useful tips for

      dealing with this situation: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-caught-my-child-lying-how-to-manage-sneaky-behavior-in-kids/ & https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-after-divorce-9-ways-to-parent-on-your-own-terms/. We appreciate you

      writing in. Take care.

  • Ataloss
    My daughter lies about where she's going and where she's spending the night so that she can stay out late and do things I most likely wouldn't let her do.  This last time I caught her in a lie about where she was, it was about 2am and she wasMore at the beach with friends.  The very next day in the morning she asked me to go somewhere again and I took that opportunity to say I think you should stay home today because you weren't truthful with me about where you were last night. She immediately got upset and told me she's going anyway and she'll be back the next day.  I told her if your going take all your things with you and don't come back.  She has already ran away multiple times in the last few years.  I realize I most likely didn't handle it right, but I am at a loss of what to do in this situation.  She is 17 and will be 18 in 5 months.  How should I have handled this situation?
    • J9 Words are Seeds

      There are millions of parents (single & married) experiencing the same, similar, or worst scenarios. I commend you for trying everything you have been equipped with and learned in handling your situation.

      I do believe in couseling, setting standards, and the "time will tell" stages, however, this generation is not like when we grew up. They are exposed to so much so soon and so fast. Threats, punishment, discipline, kicking out the house, etc. may not work for ever household.

      What I will tell you is to not be an enabler and stand your ground. Everyone tells you to be patient and don't lose your temper but they are not going through it.

      Kids tend to continue their behavior when they have a safety net. That safety net can be a small bedroom in a barn but if it means "I don't have to go home", "I'll prove my point", and "this will show them", it's good enough for them.

      Sometimes as parents we need to understand that it's hard to let go but in some cases it's a must. It's like the prodigal son in the book of Luke. When you remove the safety net (set standards and dont sway) they have two choices.....listen/obey or test society. Either way, their true inner being will come out.

      Don't give up but set an example. Do you think society is going to allow their reckless ways without consequences? Do all you can as a parent then step back and trust GOD. A boxer needs an opponent to fight with. Without an opponent, there is no fight. Fight by showing love, standards, and morals. Everything else, step back and just pray.

      Sometimes we fight so long and they still go their reckless route, then we are left bruised, barely making ends meet, emotional distraught or numb, mentally drained, etc.

      Fight and set your standards...what you will and will not tolerate...don't deviate. They run away, call the police and make a report. It's a must if they are under 18. Other than that, just prepare yourself for when they come back for you to put the pieces together. TRUST ME ! Some dont...but again, that was ineveible.


      • IwilltrustinGOD

        J9 Words are Seeds

        Thanks for posting this.  I want to give up on my daughter that is 16 that has been having sex, drinking and lying.   She has always lied about things that do not make since.  Her father and I have taken her car, phone, money and all social media from her.  I want so bad to give her those things back (because I know those things make her happy)  put I know I have to stick to my guns.  I have been in prayer for her non stop this week.  Her Father and I just found out of the things that she has been doing.  So much more I can say about the situation.  So thankful that you are telling people to trust in God.  My daughter has always been raised in Church and to know who God is and I am praying with everything I have in me that this behavior that she has stops.   All  I can do is Trust In God and fight by showing her love, standards and morals.  Trusting in God! Thanks

      • J9 Words are Seeds


        Sorry for any typos. ..

        This article hit home. ......


        Those of us with other kids.....how you handle the "difficult one"....sets an example and shows a standard. Keep fighting, don't doubt yourself or your parenting skills. If you need help or extra coping tools, reach out to friends, other parents, and professionals. When can learn alot from other stories. Keep fighting the good fight. Always pray !

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      It can be very upsetting when your teen lies to you about

      where they’ve been or what they’ve been doing. Many parents feel betrayed and

      wonder if they will ever be able to trust their child again. It may help to

      know that it’s not unusual for teens to lie, especially if they believe you

      wouldn’t give them permission to do something they really want to do. Lying is

      a poor problem solving skill, even though it may feel like a personal betrayal.

      Having your daughter leave your home may have been a knee jerk reaction to a

      stressful situation. Something to keep in mind is that in most jurisdictions, it’s

      not legal for a parent to make a minor child leave the home. You might reach

      out to your local police department to find out what the laws are in your area.

      In the meantime, we have several articles that give great tips for how to address lying and other

      teen behaviors. One in particular you may find helpful is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/risky-teen-behavior-can-you-trust-your-child-again/ Good luck to you and your

      daughter moving forward. Take care.

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