Kids & Lying
Berkeley Parents Network >
Worries Big & Little >
Kids & Lying
My 4 year old daughter lies to get out of trouble, then she insists
her lies are true. Today she splashed water all over the bathroom
floor. Not such a big deal, BUT she insisted that she hadn't done
anything and there was no water there! When I pressed her (is that
water or pee?), she said it was water, but she hadn't done it.
Sometimes she also blames things on the cats, or on me - ''you did
I don't hit her and punishment is usually a talking to or/and a
time-out. In fact, I go lighter on her (no time out) and praise her
if she tells the truth, but I do get angry when she lies. Later on,
she usually comes clean with the truth --if she's caught.
A note - Her childcare provider stretched truths and lied to get out
of situations. On one occasion she even had my daughter lie to me!
My daughter is not at that center anymore, but she was there for two
I want my daughter to understand how important telling the truth is-
and would welcome some advice.
Children often lie because they are afraid of the consequences, of whatever it is they
are lying about.
So try not getting angry about lying ( even if your reaction seems mild to you) so
she doesn't feel like like she has to lie.
She probably didn't mean to splash water all over the floor or whatever it is. Kids
forget when they are having fun or don't notice things the way grown ups do.
Instead of 'getting in trouble' she denies it, because she is afraid of loosing your love
The most obvious lies are really the worst because it feels like a challenge to our
intelligence. Your getting angry about lying sounds like a trigger for you, about
something bigger than your 4 year old.
I find when something my kids do really gets to me, it is more about me and my
past than about exactly what my kid is doing, once I look at that, it is easier for me
to put my kids action into perspective, and let my heart grow. One of the many
(challenging) ways our kids help us grow into better people.
Try saying something like '' I bet you didn't realize all the water was going on the
floor, here is a towel'' or ''Hey lets clean that up!''
Two things about lying
1) If a child is in the habit of lying don't give them the opportunity by saying things
like ''Who did this?'' or ''did you do this'' when you already know or can guess the
2) Ignore the lie and look behind it for the cause. Ask yourself what are they afraid
So your daughter lies. Your initial reaction was doable. Good
for telling the truth, no punishment. But it sounds like as the
oldest of 3 she is enjoying her one on one mom time(hugging,
etc) my guess is she is wanting attention and sees this as a
fine source of it so my answer(negative attention is better than
NO attention) is really a two step plan-first carve out some mom
time with 8 yo-you and her-read together, play cards whatever
but just the two of you. Secondly, tell her that lying is wrong-
o ands ifs or buts. You don't expect her to lie ABOUT ANYTHING!
If she continues to lie she will be punished because at 8 she is
old enough to know better-tell her what the punishment will be-
and IF she tells a lie enforce it. chances are once or twice of
truly NEGATIVE consequences and you will be done. Please balance
it with the one/one hugs etc.
mom of many
From what I have read, lying at age 4 is pretty normal. Some
kids can't distinguish between fantasy and reality; some can't
conceptualize lying and others are experimenting. I wouldn't
get too hung up on it; just keep reinforcing what you expect.
Also a Mom of a 4 yo
I'm quoting Brazelton, from his Touchpoints book: ''All four-
year-olds lie. An active imagination is a sign of emotional
health at around ages four and five - even if it leads to
untruths. And it will.''
It sounds like your daughter's previous daycare experience may
have been less than ideal, but I wouldn't worry about it having
been the source of her lying. She probably would have come up
with this idea anyway!
I would try to accept the lying as more or less natural, and to
try instead to make her think as much as possible that you are
omniscient and you know the truth anyway. Often kids KNOW that
you know the right answer but just can't manage to say it
themselves. Their egocentrism and desire to ''save face'' (yes,
toddlers and preschoolers have this) gets in the way. In the
case of the spilled water, you could just say, Oh, really? in
response to her denial, and then hand her a towel and make sure
she cleans it up before getting to resume playing. So the
consequences are the same either way, because you the all-
powerful parent know the truth anyway.
That doesn't mean she shouldn't ever be punished for lying,
such as when she deliberately lies to hurt someone. But you may
find that it works best to save those kinds of punishments for
a few years, like when she is 6+, and you know that she KNOWS
she is lying. Right now, at age 4, the lines are fuzzy between
awareness of what is truth and what is imaginary (''if I say it,
does that make it true?''), so it's quite possible that she is
confused about being punished for lying per se.
I bet there is something punitive when you ask "Did you spill
the water?" My guess is you're going to say something
like "You're wasting water? Why can't you be more careful? What
IS THIS MESS?"
Children lie because they are afraid of what will happen if they
tell the truth.
Rather than saying something like "Did you splash water on the
floor?" You should say something like "I see that when you were
playing with the water some spilled on the floor. Let's both
grab a wash cloth and clean it up." Then do it.
Children shouldn't be forced into admitting something just
because an adult wants satisfaction of the admission of guilt.
As long as you choose to make your questions rhetorical and
consequence driven, you will have a child who is frightened
enough to lie.
If the deed was clearly done by your daughter, then help her get
the mess cleaned up. While you are cleaning, you can talk about
her coming to you if the mess is more than she can handle, if
she doesn't quite know what to do. When you make it easy to tell
the truth, when the consequence of telling the truth outweigh
the consequence of lying, when your daughter can trust that you
only want to resolve the issue not punish her, she will begin
telling the truth.
Works for me in the classroom and at home
With a 4-year old, I would bring in an external object for these tricky conversations, a
stuffed animal friend, who is willing to take the blame. ''I think I understand what
happened here, your Bear splashed water all over the floor! Oh my, let's have a talk
with Bear.'' It can be silly or serious, your child may decide to put Bear in a time out, be
punitive or forgiving. You can cover a lot of sticky ground by enlisting an animal friend
for help.. You can tell Bear exactly what the rules are and your child is not blamed or
shamed. Just play with it and see where it goes. Just because they lie at 4 does not
mean it's a lasting behaviour, they are just trying stuff out, and pushing the limits. At 5
years, it will all be different! Enjoy their wonderful fantasies, when you can.
I think at your daughter's age, the line between real and
imaginary is pretty thin and that's good and normal. How about
sidestepping asking her if such and such is real and just
asking or moving forward in some way assuming that it is, so
she doesn't have to answer the question. Being asked may be
scary to her. ''Oh, you had a little spill. Let's clean up!''
(cheerfully). Or move onto the next logical question as though
you both know she did whatever it is, the next question being
non-blaming but asking more which of two next steps she wants
to take, now that the thing she did is done... does that make
sense? If it's something you want to discourage, same
thing. ''That bite really hurt Jenny. Do you want to go to her
house to say you're sorry, or draw her a picture?''
I don't think the word ''lying'' really totally applies and I
don't think this is a huge deal. Also I'd avoid focusing on
blame. Hope this helps.
I'm pretty sure I read in a book somewhere that 4 years olds go
through this phase. I don't think that the intent is to
necessarily be deceptive as it might appear. But is more linked
to their strong imagination. I wouldn't fret too much. Just
remember it's another learning opportunity as ALL the other ones
you might have worked on. I imagine if you get too worked up
about her experimenting with what's real and what's not (or
rather, what she might like to conveniently make real in any
given moment) it might not be too productive. Just teach her calmly
patience is a virtue
I read some of the responses and just had to chime in...
Yes, that age is the time that your child is learning about
reality and truth. It's such an important age. However, to let it
pass or not address it directly will just reinforce to your
daughter that lying is an option when you want to avoid
consequences. Please don't sidestep a conversation about honesty.
It really bothered me that a couple responders made it sound like
your daughter was lying because she was so afraid of your
obviously harsh reactions that she had no choice and even went on
to tell you how to handle the mess situation and not the lying
situation. You must be one of those parents that over-reacts and
needs to learn how to better handle the situation, right? (Ugh)
Maybe I'm tiring of my proximity to Berkeley, but I couldn't
believe that someone might actually describe the act of asking
your child to take responsibility for her actions as ''being
forced into admitting something just because an adult wants
satisfaction of the admission of guilt.'' Yikes!
It was a very long article, but I really learned a lot from the
NY Mag piece that was linked to in one of the responses and it
reinforced my experience as a parent. You need to talk about
truth and honesty with your child--including at age four. Also,
you need to talk about not only the consequences of lying and
dishonesty, but the great benefits of truthfulness and taking
responsibility (the George Washington example.)
The responsibility thing is a big deal. I'm a pretty strict
parent with straightforward consequences, and I find that instead
of lying, my children usually come to me early in a situation
like yours and tell me the truth so that they can at least
balance any downside of doing something wrong with the upside
(mostly praise) for being honest.
Good luck with your daughter!
My husband just got the dreaded phone call from my daughter's
(age 4) pre-school asking if we included blueberries in her
lunch (we had not). Apparently, our daughter insisted those were
hers much to the dismay and tears of another girl. Of late, she
has been telling more ''lies'' or stories - like having her hand
in the cookie jar and insisting that it's not hers (and our cat
gets blamed for many things now) - and I get that this is
developmentally normal. It was helpful to read posts on BPN on
this subject. I guess her taking something that does not belong
to her really bothers me. I know that I will not get responses
to this before I pick her up in a few hours, but I did want to
get ideas on how to deal with this in the future. My plan is to
pick her up and ask about the episode and hope that my daughter
can empathize with the other girl's loss/feelings. My hope is to
be calm about this and keep reminding my daughter of our
unconditional love. She tends to be a girl who does not get in
trouble so on the rare incidents when she does something against
the ''rules'' and we talk about it, she shows intense sad and
angry feelings. It helps just to write this and send it off as a
posting but I would love to hear about other's success and
struggles dealing with this issue. Thanks
I could have written this post! My daughter recently went
through this same phase, taking things out of the classroom that
did not belong to her, bringing things home in her lunch box. We
had several conversations with her about it, and each time she
got very upset and cried, almost hysterical. I tried to
emphasize that taking things from others makes them feel bad,
and I asked her how it would make her feel if someone took her
precious blanket and didn't tell her. She seemed to respond best
to that. And the behavior just stopped after a couple of weeks,
which will likely be the case with your daughter as well.
Daughter Not Headed for Sing Sing
I felt a little sad for your daughter when I read how you titled
your post ''four year old lies and steals''. I do not think that
it is in the nature of children so young to steal or be
duplicitous in any way. Try to remember that children are
pretty focuced on the present only and what they want at that
given moment in time. Your daughter saw the blueberries in
someone else's lunch and wanted them. The next time something
like this happens, say to your daughter ''oh, the teacher called
and said there was a misunderstanding about the blueberries and
the other little girtl felt really badly. Please don't do that
again. And then, make it light. If you want blueberries in your
lunch, we can get fresh blueberries, blueberry yogurt, blueberry
muffins, in fact, we can have a blueberry festival. But, we
must bring our own food from home. That's the rule so no one
gets confused. O.K.?. And then, DROP it!!! Do not continue to
give your child heavy guilt trips over little things. State the
rule, make it light, state the rule again. And then, follow up
by actually having her get some blueberries or give you
suggestions of what to include in the lunch. Ditto with the
cookies. I think it is actually kind of cute that she has the
imagination to blame it on the cat. If you don't want her
sneaking cookies, put them away. Set up regular cookie and milk
time. Stick to the rules. Tell her that Mr. Puss in Boots is
reminded that cookie hour is at 4:00 and that the milk will be
cold. Try not to be so controlling. Have the conversations with
the Cat yourself. Your daughter will get the messages that you
want to convey by stating the rules, making it fun, and stating
the rules again. ''Oh that was nice cookie time, same time
tomorrow, right Mr. Boots? Oh, and Mr. Boots, if I catch you
sneaking cookies, we really won't be able to do it again
tomorrow because you will already have had your fill and that
would be such a shame because I like to have this time with
a mother of two whose children love it when mr. Cat talks
Our three-year-old daughter has started lying recently along the lines
of "I didn't spill my milk" and "I didn't push my brother", when she
did them right in front of me or my husband. I don't think our
response to these acts is harsh or unpredictable. Our response to her
lying, which has been to talk to her about telling the truth and how
that's more important than spilling milk, has not been particularly
effective - at least not visibly. I am wondering if anyone has
anything to say about instilling honesty in children of this age.
I have a 3 & 1/4 year old and am looking forward to the answers. I looked
in a couple of my books last night. Brazelton's Touchpoints and Leach's
Birth to 5 years. What I could glean was that a preschoolers very active
fantasy life mixes up with reality, plus there is the development of
concious and guilt. So the statement of "I didn't do it" may arise out of
a very strong wish that she/he hadn't done it...and it becomes reality for
a moment. Both books talk about not making an emotional big deal about it
just being matter-of-fact that you saw something occur (and it sounds like
you are being successfully low-key about it). The significance of truth vs
lie become more important at about age 6 or so. Right now it is more of an
issue of (truth) reality vs fantasy. Last night was thinking about your
question, I spilled a cup of water on the floor. So I remarked to my
daughter "look what I just did..oops." There are so many instances when we
wish we had done something differently. It must be hard to discern (from a
3 year old point of view) which situations really need to be different (ie
hitting someone or being deliberately mean) vs situations that are nice to
avoid but not serious (ie spilling on the floor by mistake). Let us know
what works for your family.
I have concerns about truth-telling too. My 3 year old daughter sometimes
makes up stories along the same lines, although usually to do with kids at
school so I haven't witnessed the (alleged) event. Usually, I try to get
her to explain the whole story, so I can make sure I'm not accusing her of
dishonesty if something really has happened that made her feel bad. If
something is clearly not true, I ask her why she has said it happened, and
tell her it is not nice say something not true about someone else. She has
a vivid imagination, and often acts out scenes from books and videos. She
has also been known to state that she has painted/made that flower, sky,
picture, necklace, etc., I think "testing" us for our "gullibility factor"
because she looks for a reaction, so I make a neutral statement like "it's
beautiful," or "how did you do that?" I did once ask the doctor about
"instilling honesty," and was told that conscience doesn't usually kick in
until about 4-5 years old. At 3, children are usually learning about
fantasy, and it takes a while to sort out what's "real" and what's not.
The advice was to do what you are already doing: calmly explain the basic
value of telling the truth, and it will take hold as circumstances/examples
add up. (My husband is in child development and works with 2-5 year olds,
so he knows a lot more about this than I do!). I guess the issue for me is
how to teach important values while encouraging a developing imagination.
My little boy is 7 now but I have handle the issue of lying in a way that
has helped in his early years and is still working. I've consistently
stressed to him that if he tells the truth - he doesn't get punished. Of
course I will find out or see if he is lying so I will know what is a lie
or what is the truth. He might get a stern talking to and lecture, but no
punishment. If I find out that he has lied then there is punishment which
has taken the form of sending him to his room to "think about his actions",
me manifesting a non understanding and exasperated mood and expressing my
strong dissatisfaction, no treats, or whatever has seems appropriate at the
age. It has never really got to any REAL punishment because it has worked
quite well. Positive reinforcement about truth telling in his early years -
regardless of the severity of the action - has worked. I have told him
that telling the truth is sometimes the hardest thing and that we always
will have to talk about it (no real getting off), but that he should not be
fearful of the ramifications of truth telling. Even now, when I ask him if
things like if he threw his lunch away or ate it, he will tell me exactly
why and what he threw away and what he ate. Sometime, it takes a little
coercion and a reminder of the "no punishment for truth " rule, but the
decision almost always is to avoid the P word. Hope this helps.
I don't think this is really lying -- I think they are testing the limits
of their control. Can the kid change reality by saying it's different than
it is? I think they learn whether or not to lie from the actions of those
around them. If the adults are truthful (that is saying it will hurt when
it does and not saying it won't hurt when it will; not pretending things
are ok when they are not, etc) the kids will learn they have nothing to
lose by telling the truth.
This is based only on personal experience and anecdotal evidence.
I'm wondering if anyone has encountered this, and your philosophy
on how to handle it. My daughter is 8, but has always been very
mature for her age. Rather wise, if you will. From time to time,
I have caught, or heard, her tell a lie, and either called her
out on it, or not. She has two little siblings, and sometimes I
have felt it's a defense mechanism, perhaps a perfectionist
complex, in a way. Only at times when it comes down to word
against word have I forced her to (i.e.) stay in her room until
ready to tell the truth, etc. Otherwise, it kind of just feels
like regular ''kid stuff''.
Well, last month I caught her in a bold faced lie, the kind that
was not even worth telling, it was just to be ''right''. I called
her out on it, knowing it was a lie, but she swore it was true. I
didn't do anything but give her the dreaded look of matronly
disappointment. I let her know I knew it wasn't true, but didn't
force it. Well, that sweet little thing came back to me that
night, all shaken up and and said she needed to work it out with
me, she had lied. I was so touched, I did nothing but hug her for
awhile, told her I had known, and that was it. No punishment. A
week later, the same thing. But she was maybe less shaken up. I
said thank you for telling me, I thought it wasn't true, please
try to speak the truth, etc. A little more 'preachy''. Then,
again,a few days later. Here's where I started to wonder, rut
roh! Is she going to think as long as she tells me, this is ok?
And she's beginning to be more passive about it. So, yesterday
was the fourth time, and this time we were at a friends house, I
saw her do it, told her I saw her do it, she lied, said no, she
didn't (and we're talking small stuff, like eating 3 more
croutons instead of 2), but she was really passive. (hey, mom,
earlier i lied, i really did take 3) So, my question is, who has
dealt with this, and do you just punish as you would anyway? My
dilemma is that I want her to see it has consequences, but we all
know kids lie, and normally don't confess. Or do they?
I guess what my worry is that as soon as I say ok, thanks for
telling me, here's your consequence, she won't be open with me
anymore. On the flip side, it doesn't seem to be that her
conscious is weighing her down anymore, either. More as a way to
break a rule, lie, then get away with it. So, my question is,
what would you do? I want to hold the line without losing the
connection. And she's only 8!!
This is a tricky one. My son is 8, and rather ''wise'' also, but does occasionally lie.
The things to try, it seems to me, are as follows:
1) Do not, under any circumstances, give a lot of attention to either lying, or
confessing. This will prolong the problem.
2) When you know the lie is happening as it happens, make it clear you know the
truth and are disappointed, and then either let it be (if it's 3 croutons instead of 2),
or administer whatever consequences would normally be associated with the action
(if it's more than the crouton thing). DO NOT argue about lies/truth, or even discuss
it. (the attention thing).
3) When she confesses a lie, again make your disappointment in the original lie
Then, perhaps, ask her what she thinks should happen to her because of the action
and the lie. Try to go with some version of what she says.
4) Tell her (at some other time, when you're just talking) that if she lies to you, you
may not be able to believe her in the future. Maybe read The Boy Who Cried Wolf, or
some similar book. Explain to her how very important truthfulness can be in your
relationship with the world. If you have this sort of talk when the two of you are
calm, it will stick better.
I found this article a good read on this issue. "Learning to Lie"
Also some further research at http://talwarresearch.com/publications.html
Wow, two questions about lying! I will address yours as your
daughter is close in age to my oldest (9).
First, I would ask how you are handling the lie right when it
happens. It seems from your post that you are witnessing it and
asking about it later. She needs to address her dishonesty at the
moment it happens and then you can ask, ''Why are you lying? Why
is that a solution to this situation?'' It is too diluted if you
discuss it later as I think you said.
The second thing I would say, and this goes to the woman with the
4-year-old as well, is that you have to make her see that not
lying, read=being honest, is the absolute best way to go. I have
hammered this into both of my daughters with two main points:
1-Trust//I tell them that if lying becomes a habit, then they
can't be trusted by me or others. That means less freedom, more
rules, friends that are wary of them, less interest/regard for
what they say. I say this about any dishonesty. If my daughter
throws her veggies away at lunch instead of eating them, she must
fess up. ''I have to be able to trust you'' is our mantra.
2-Alternative//I have made it very clear that lying is ALWAYS
worse than whatever it is they may be trying to cover up. This
may not be factually true, but it makes a strong impression when
we talk about it. I always tell them any consequences will be
worse for lying than for whatever it is they are lying about.
(They are girls!! I am trying to make sure we have this down
before we hit the teen years!!)
I would not let things slide as ''kid stuff'' (not sure if you said
it or the mom of the 4-year-old). Truth and honesty are so
important and you need to set an good example and to address
these issues as they come up.
I have grown children now, but I felt that it was important to teach my children early
that lying was not OK because it would be more difficult to deal with when they were
teenagers. I started by telling them that lying would always cause a worse punishment
than telling the truth would and I tried to follow through. This can get very difficult
when your child tells you something they have done that was bad, but I tried to
remember to praise them on telling the truth (I was not always successful.) I also tried
to point out examples of how lying might hurt them - if I lied or a friend lied to them
and I told them how their lying hurt me. Then when/if they lied about something there
was a consequence. Since I am not all knowing I frequently asked my children what
they thought the consequence should be when they had done something wrong. They
frequently had good/interesting and appropriate ideas.
mother of grown children
It sounds like you are doing the right thing not making a big deal about her lying
even tho you know what she is up to. And responding with love and support when
she did come back to you later with the truth. I would keep doing what you are
Keep responding with love and understanding and not making a big deal of it the
lie or the confession.
It is just what she is going thru right now and as long as she can be sure of your
love she will go right thru this stage. Her doing this over and over with less and less
intensity is a good sign, it is not that she is thinking it is okay, she knows it is not or
she wouldn't come back later, she just wants to be sure of your love and that you do
know what is real. If she stops coming to you, I would go to her privately and let her
know that you do know the truth and that she will feel better if she tells the truth
and people will like/love her no matter what the truth is.
One of my kids likes to 'enhance' the truth or just plain make up stories about
things that have happened. I listen and let him know I don't remember it happening
that way or at all, and will remind him that he is great just the way he is and that he
doesn't have make anything up.
Also when I kid is having a tendency to lie I just don't ask the kind of questions
that will give them the opportunity to lie.
Dear Friend- I am a long-time elementary school teacher and Boy
Howdy! have I had trouble dealing with exactly your issue. When
the children are very young, you can deal with it in a kinder,
sweeter way, but once they are in second or third grade it gets
tricky. For example, you can never ask ''Did you take the pencil
(eraser, lunch money, etc)'' You have to say ''Why did you take the
pencil?'' Or in the case of lunch money ''Where is the lunch
money?'' Of course they remonstrate with the standard ''I
didn't______(fill in the blank) at which time you have to be
stern and say ''I didn't ask you IF you took the pencil, I want to
know WHY you did.'' This method was taught to me when I first
started teaching many years ago by a wonderful mentor and it has
never failed me. There's no yelling, etc...you just have control
of the situation. Pretty soon kids get sick of being caught in
the lie and stop. It's just not worth it to them and you are the
grown up without having to resort to anything you would regret.
Can you believe it? In my day we were taught to even use
demeaning sarcasm as a classroom management technique. UGH! Try
this method-it works-it's not unkind, just direct. Good luck!
I swap childcare with a friend 4-5 times/month and our 6-yr-old girls get along
well. It's a great set-up for us and we have been doing this for 4 years. Lately I
have been struggling with an issue with my friend's daughter. Like my girl, she is
going through a phase I'll call ''experimenting with the truth'', where she will tell a
patent lie and then deny it. I deal with friend's tall tales the same way I do with my
own spin specialist's, by saying, ''I'm sorry, I disagree with you. The truth is __, you
can tell me the truth and I won't be upset because I care about you''. At that point,
my daughter will usually drop it. I feel like it is about getting attention. The
problem is that friend will then become quite hysterical and insist that she is right.
My daughter will often jump in and because she loves to be right, say, ''No, you're
wrong'' and then my energy is directed at keeping her out of the argument. Usually
I'm successful, but friend continues to challenge me and insist she is right. I tell her
the argument is over, but she gets a defiant gleam in her eye (here is where she
really differs from my kid) and runs off to the bathroom/bedroom, slams the door
and starts screaming ''You're wrong!!! Leave me alone!!'' Which I am happy to do.
This has begun happening more frequently and has made many of our previously
fun activities crash and burn. I have talked to her mom, and she says it's a problem
for her too, but she feels like it is part of her sensitive spirit, and doesn't want to
punish her for it. When I've seen mom deal with it, at my house or her own, she
usually stands outside the door and asks her to come out and talk, which escalates
the tantrum and at least at our house has marked up our walls from kicking, which
has deeply embarrassed my mom friend . That's her battle, but at my house I want
to find a way to stop it. Any suggestions?
Don't get involved unless there is damage to property. You
have to be right. You know how she will react. Or, tell the
that you need a few months break while she gets her emotions
If there is no way around involving yourself in a 'what is the
truth discussion' then tell her that you will call her Mom to
come pick her up. Ask her to sit on the front sofa until she
comes. Make sure that you let Mom know this is coming. Tell
you can't handle the drama in your house. Mom will either
out how to reign it in...or, she will have her 'days off' cut
I have a friend's daughter who is a nightmare drama queen. I
in the bud -- she is a tattler. I nicely tell her to deal
directly with whoever gave her a dirty look, won't share their
toy, etc. She won't (I think that she is looking for attention
and/or making things up...she is six. I have a five-year-old so
my lie-dar is not fully operational, yet) Her tantrums escalate
the more attention/soothing I give her, so now I kindly tell her
to deal with the problem herself (I don't witness any of these
travesties to humanity and there is no blood...and quite
she is the only kid who complains about my daughters) and walk
away to take care of some imaginary project. I am not mean, but
I won't engage. The drama lasts but a minute. Her Mom
on about how sensitive her child is...that is fine, but then
her learn some coping strategies. Don't pull her aside and say
'stop sweetie or you won't have any friends' or don't tell my
child to stop antagonizing her daughter. I talked to the Dad of
the child (Mom thinks that any naysayers re: her daughter --
including her teachers -- are just being mean.) and told him
all of the crying and drama makes it difficult for my daughter
enjoy the playdates (my own daughter has compared the girl to
''Boy who Cried Wolf.''). Dad is actually working on it (he
my style of dealing with his daughter -- gently, but not falling
prey to her manipulations). I've also minimized contact -- Mom
can't be around my child (don't need an adult saying something
nasty to my child-- and she is nearly every time she comes in
contact with her. I feel you can make your point and stay
I won't have the daughter over to my house if her Mom will be
around. The Dads take the daughters to the playground,
Don't know if this helps.
I have a 7-year-old who sometimes fibs about inconsequential
things that are easily disproved. If I challenge him, he
very insistent and piles more lies on top of the one already
told, and then everything escalates into a big show-down. He
not give in even if the evidence is staring him in the face! It
is just irrational, as kids this age so often are. So I have
found the best strategy is a very bored and/or skeptical
and then immediately change the subject. Example: He says,
teacher didn't give us homework tonight''. Mom: ''Uh-huh. So do
you want a snack first?'' and then I ignore him (at this point
he is saying ''Really mom! really! she didn't!'') as I get his
homework assignment out of the backpack and put it on the table
and go fetch a snack. It doesn't work to say ''I thought you
you didn't have any homework!!! What's this?!'' For him, that's
just a cue for drama. So I recommend ignoring, diffusing and
moving on. This way, the little lies are a lot less fun, and
will start to happen a lot less often.
Mom of 3
The best book I have found for raising kids is: ''Love and
I like the one for toddlers and younger kids.
I think all this drama is the child wanting to have adults
around. She wants to know that she can trust adults to set
I would talk to her and explain that it is not acceptable for
to act that way in your home. If she wants to continue visiting
you, she needs to have better manners and respect for you.
Also, if it's a story that doesn't matter, I wouldn't worry to
much about contradicting her. Just ignore her.
I think this sensitive kid stuff is extremely damaging to the
child. Kids need adults to help teach them impulse control. If
not they will be sensitive adults... And there's not a lot of
room in the world for us. Teach them dicipline now, so they can
have it for the rest of their lives.
Love and Logic fan.
How about, ''Oh honey, I bet you wish that is what happened'' or
just ignoring anything you know is a lie (not responding
verbally to it)? Is she worried she'll get in trouble, angry at
herself because she slipped up, testing you? No need to go into
it. Express compassion and change the subject; there's less
room for argument. As for the bad behavior, tell her you don't
allow door slamming and kicking walls in your home. If she
does, she won't be able to come over again for a week. Seems
like her mom should be doing this though. Maybe you can run it
Recently, our second grade daughter stole about $2 in quarters from her
grandmother's state quarters collection. After admitting she was responsible,
my daughter expressed deep remorse, voluntarily gave me ''all the quarters'' to
give back to her grandmother, wrote her grandmother a letter telling her how
ashamed she was and asking what she needed to do to make it up to her
grandmother, and told me that she understood how wrong this was and that
she would never do it again. In addition to returning the quarters, her
grandmother asked her to do certain chores for the next four times she visited.
Then two days later my husband discovered more quarters on top of our
daughter's dresser. It turned out that she had kept part of the money she
took, hiding it inside a shirt. When she decided to wear the shirt she put the
hidden money on top of her dresser where my husband noticed it. So we
talked again, this time stressing even more strongly the consequences of
stealing, everything from loss of her family's trust, to not being able to freely
play or even be welcomed to other people's houses to going to jail for stealing
and how awful it is to live in jail. As we spoke, I started crying. She became
very serious working hard to comfort me. We put her on a month of restricted
privileges. She has been behaving like an angel, observing her restrictions
This was her third stealing/lying/hiding incident In the past year. However, it
was the first time that we know for sure that she has stolen outside our home.
In the first two incidents, she first lied unequivocally saying she had not taken
anything and became furious at us for finding out what she had done, telling
her it was stealing, and requiring her to return or pay for what she had taken.
Each of the first two times, she continued to deny having taken anything even
when we knew for sure, making up improbable explanations of why she had
the items in her possession, then exploding with anger when we didn't accept
her stories. After she calmed down and admitted what she had done, she still
expressed anger that we had not believed her. She didn't have the anger
explosion this time.
We believe that there's a worsening pattern of behavior that needs to be
stopped. What have other parents done? How do we handle visits--especially
solo visits--to the homes of relatives and friends? How do we tell if she's
really trying to change her behavior? How and when do we take steps to
rebuild trust? What if she steals or lies to us again?
I have a confession....I was a 2nd grade thief and liar too. Looking back on the
situation, there were several family issues going on during that time and my
self-psycho-analysis tells me that I wanted some attention. I was the oldest of
2, my parents adopted an OLDER sibling and suddenly I was the middle child.
My grandmother (who preferred my brother over myself simply because he was
male) lived with us and my dad travelled alot for work at the time. It probably
wasn't the best way to get attention, but I was starving for ANY attention,
good, bad, or otherwise. Is there anything going on with your daughter that
would make her feel like she needs some extra attention? What worked for
me? My parents are smart smart people. It took some time, but they figured it
out. We started ''buddy day''. Every Saturday, the 3 of us kids rotated Buddy
Day with Mom or Dad. When it was our turn, we could do anything we wanted
with either mom or dad (I think they rotated days too...) I always chose
McDonalds with my dad for some reason. I clearly remember scraping the
onions off my cheeseburgers....it's a stupid ''activity'' but I simply adored Buddy
Day. Undivided attention. I kinda miss it, just thinking about it again makes
me want to call mom and dad and schedule another buddy day. Again, I don't
know what specific issues or non-issues you, your daughter or your family
have...maybe none or maybe something you thought wasn't a big deal but to
her it is. Mine were clearly huge and your post just reminded me of that little
learning period in my life.
(By the way....I turned out okay!) ;-)
My almost 6 year old son has been in the habit lately of "tricking"
us, as he likes to refer to it, although it is basically blantant
lying. My husband and I have explained to him to story behind "crying
wolf" but to no avail, its not working. He will often look straight at
us and lye about things we've asked him, often serious questions --
when we're not playing around. He'll tell us things such as "no, I
didn't do that" or "I didn't say that", etc. when it's perfectly clear
to everyone around him that he did do XYZ. I'm not sure what to do,
or how to handle this. I especially don't want him to get trapped
into a behavior which will make people believe that he is always
"tricking" or never telling the truth. Maybe time will take care of
it once it finally catches up to him, although I would prefer to nip
it now. Thanks.
What we did when our children told us lies.
Each time they were caught, the had to write out the sentence:
"I will not lie to my parents."
And each time they were caught, the number of time that they had to
write it out doubled. This was clearly explained to them.
We started with 25 times and went up from there.
Our oldest had to write it 200 times for the last lie before she quit,
but that was the end of it.
The second one learned from the first and never had to do it. The third one
has had to do the first 25 so far.
Failure to complete the sentences resluts in total loss of privledges -
TV, radio, stereo, computer, books, games, lessons, homework, sports, nothing
is an acceptable excuse. Basically, "Do it now and no fooling around."
I choose my issues very carefully and this is a VERY BIG issue.
Obviously this is not workable with a child that can't yet write.
For the younger set, I would explain to the child that the behavior is
called a lie, and that it is unacceptable and follow it with a long
I don't have much in the way of advice regarding your son's behavior, but I
went through this as a child at around this age, too. Maybe it has
something to do with the power of words and the desire to change what
actually is real. (If I say I didn't do it, then maybe I didn't actually do
it...) In any case, after years of getting *found out* in my lies, I came
to the conclusion that lying wasn't worth it. As an adult I find it almost
impossible to lie - I get flushed, and smile a lot, basically totally giving
it away. I have no idea if this reassures you or not, but I'm betting he
grows out of it as well.
this page was last updated: Nov 27, 2010
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network