Kids and Children Lying: Normal or Not Normal

11 Apr

April 11, 2011 – If your child lies, he is not alone. Most children lie at some point in their lives but parents have a hard time recognizing when the lying is becoming problematic.

Reasons Why Children Lie and Not Tell The Truth

children lying telling truthWhen your child is younger, it is normal for her to lie and not always tell the truth. At a younger age, they often can not distinguish between reality and fantasy, and as a result, their lies are quite innocent.

As kids get older, around 5 to 6 years of age, they get a better grip on reality and understand the difference between reality and fantasy. They also begin to develop a conscience and feel guilt when they’ve done something wrong. Children may, at this age, begin telling lies to avoid punishment.

By the time your child is 7 or 8 years old, he should have a good grip on fantasy and reality and should tell the truth. It is common to want to avoid punishments and tell lies to avoid disapproval. At this age, kids also understand the concept of social lying: lying to be kind to someone’s feelings.

How to Stop Kids From Lying and Not Telling the Truth

You can help your kid(s) avoid lying by following some simple guidelines. Remember that lying is part of normal development and in most cases, not a problem that can not be overcome.

Be a Good Role Model

Your child will look to your for guidance, so be sure to be a good role model. Keep your word and if, for some reason, your intentions fall through, apologize and explain to your child why your promise was broken. Even simple things, like promising a trip to a store and then always changing the plans, can be seen by your child as “inconsistent” and “not truthful” and may set the stage for your child not believing you in future dealings.

Encourage Your Child to Be Honest

While it’s common for children to want to avoid punishments, you must encourage your child to be honest and truthful. Teach your child to think before replying and give them a chance to recant their version of the story and to “come clean” with what really happened. It’s also important to create a safe family environment so your child feels comfortable in telling the truth.

Be sure to compliment your child when she tells the truth and if a punishment is necessary, be sure it is more mild than a punishment would be for not telling the truth.

How to Deal With Children and Kids Lying

If your child does lie; do not ignore it. Give them a chance to confess and explain the consequences for lying. As with any punishment, think before speaking. It is important that a punishment fits the situation. So if you aren’t sure about the punishment, send your child to his room while you calmly decide on a punishment. Many parents react spontaneously and hand out “unreasonable” punishments, which are hard to enforce and may lead to arguments from the child.

Don’t lecture your child and remember the simple rule: KISS – Keep It Short and Simple! While you may want to drone on and on about the issue, your child will begin to lose focus and get lost in what you are saying. Keep it short and simple, hand out the punishment and walk away. Make sure your child understands why lying is wrong and have her apologize for her actions.

Problem Lying With Child and Kids

Sometimes, children lie compulsively (known as compulsive or habitual lying) and you may need to get further assistance in curbing the problem. Older kids and teens may lie to get attention or to hide something such as bullying or drug abuse. They may also lie to get what they want and take advantage of others.

Studies have shown that habitual liars have more white matter in their brain than those who are not habitual liars. It is believed also, that the grey matter of the brain controls the urge to lie and the same study indicates that habitual liars have a 16% decrease of grey matter in their brain.

Do Children With ADHD/ADD Lie More Often?

Children with ADHD or ADD have shown to have lower dopamine levels in their brain. Dopamine is responsible for functions such as “motivation and rewards” and lower levels may make your child more susceptible to not doing something because she can not understand the merit in doing so.

This may also explain why some children with ADHD or ADD tend to lie, as they just don’t see the point in telling the truth and being honest. Helping them to understand the importance of telling the truth and praising them for such actions, is a good step in curbing the lying.

How to Help Children and Kids Who Lie

There are many options to help your child curb his lying problem. You may need to look at individual and/or family counseling. Group therapy is another good alternative for your child if he is lying to get attention. You may also want to get your child assessed to rule out any learning disabilities. Sometimes, children who have a problem learning or understanding, will lie to cover up for the problem.


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2 responses to “Kids and Children Lying: Normal or Not Normal

  1. lena

    June 22, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Your article sounds ver familiar. In fact, I just read another online article with some of the exact wording…. I mean, word for word! It is written by Dr. Anthony Kane…, but I don’t see any references listed.

    • tamaralaschinsky

      July 11, 2011 at 8:58 pm

      Hi Lena,

      That is strange, and while I don’t recall reading that exact article I did read one similar to it. My post was a compilation of various articles on children lying and I wouldn’t say it was word for word, but yes, there are some similarities in the beginning of the document especially when dealing with the age groups and how they perceive truth & fantasy. I would never copy someone’s work word for word, even with their permission. I still prefer to write my own pieces and then refer readers to that person’s site if their article is that good.

      I don’t recall being on that specific site and can’t remember where I read the age groups & lying but I will agree it is strange that it is so close in some wording. Thanks for pointing that out!


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