Des Moines, IA

Why Do My Kids Lie?

From tall tales to white lies, dishonesty is a natural part of a child’s development. Children learn to lie for different reasons at different ages (or stages) of life. It’s perfectly normal in most cases and harmless.

Your first experience with a child telling a lie will most likely be when he or she is a toddler, around age three. Most of these first lies are pretty obvious and pretty imaginative. They are also usually self-serving in the way that they may deny something to get something they want rather than to avoid punishment.

Instead of punishing the child, who probably doesn’t even realize what a lie is, acknowledge the situation and make a statement that they can own up to. If they break something, say, “I wonder how that broke” or “look, the new dish is broken”.  It’s also an important time to start explaining to kids what a lie is and why it’s important to tell the truth.

Reality is a hard concept for young minds to grasp. Children often don’t see the difference, which is why many tall tales are truly imaginative and creative on the part of the child. From imaginary friends and siblings to the stories and concepts they are trying to learn about, such as death, jealousy, etc. their tales are usually a way of processing new developments. Unless it becomes troubling (you know your child best) and very consistent (not just a phase) then continue to just communicate and teach them the differences between tales and lies and what is okay and what is not.

Boy hiding fidget spinner behind his backAs children grow older, their reasons for lying change. It may be to protect a friend or sibling or to avoid a known punishment or consequence. Lying for others is a sign of sensitivity and social awareness. It’s not necessarily good to lie, but this is a good developmental concept for kids to learn. Many times children lie because something may be difficult for them. Homework for a specific subject may be stated as done, but they didn’t do it because it is hard for them. Instead of rushing to punish or scold, ask why it isn’t completed to get to the source to help your child, which will help stop the lying as well.

A child who withholds information may seem like they are lying or hiding something, but many times they aren’t. They don’t have to tell you everything and children, especially teenagers, are trying to find their independence. Give them some space and allow them to take responsibility if they are not following through on something. Helpful reminders may be good, but no nagging or pestering.  

The best way to teach honesty, like any skill, is by example. Set a good example for your children. Don’t tell lies. If you find yourself caught in a lie, explain to your children why you did it and fess up.

Farrells Martial Arts Kicker LogoTKD Tip: This stage, like many others, will come and go. If it does become persistent and more secretive and you have reason to believe it is becoming harmful to themselves or others, then it may be time to seek professional help. There are a lot of pressures and stressors for children that could be the source of lying and mood changes. Open communication is best.





Location Info

Beaverdale School         Waukee School
2706 Beaver Ave.            215 N. Warrior Lane
Des Moines, IA 50310       Waukee, IA 50263
515-255-0095                  515-978-3000