Why Do Children Lie?

why do children lie

I’ll never forget looking over my son’s first grade writing journal. I read that he had seen a PG-13 movie, that he had gone to a big party, and that he had thrown up over the weekend. Hmmm… interesting because none of that happened! It got me asking the questions, why do children lie and what can moms do about it?

Well, the first thing to do is to look beyond the behavior—the lying—to see what might be the reason behind it. In young children, it can just be the work of an active imagination, and they may not equate it with lying. So explain to them gently that there’s a time for make believe and telling stories, and there’s a time for telling the truth.

Older children might lie when they feel put on the spot or don’t want to disappoint us, “Josh, you did do that extra math challenge, right?” In a panic, Josh says, “Yes,” even though he didn’t. In this case, you can phrase your questions differently to help him get in the habit of telling the truth rather than quickly reacting with a lie.

“Josh, it’s okay if you didn’t get to that math challenge because you still have time to finish it, but were you able to get it done?” This gives your child a safe way to tell you the truth.

Here are 20 (Yes, 20!) helpful ideas to help your child be honest and what you can do when they do lie. Plus, we have a great printable Honesty Award to celebrate their honesty.

How do you handle lying?