How Do I Stop My Child from Lying?

Lying Child

It’s ‘one of those days’ when you realise your child is intentionally lying to you.

  • At first you might be angry – the little scoundrel!
  • Then you may start wondering if she’s going to turn out to be a dishonest loser.
  • And then, if you’re anything like the rest of us guilt-ridden types, you’ll turn it on itself and start wondering if you’ve completely failed as a parent.

But the truth is, almost ALL children lie at one time or another.

My friend’s four year-old son lies all day long. He has a never-ending imagination and tells stories constantly. The last time I saw him he told me in great detail how his teeth kept falling out and the tooth fairy kept coming, when he hasn’t even lost one tooth yet! His mum was a little worried about it at first. But she has a sense of humour, so instead of reprimanding him and telling him to stop lying and tell the truth, she has turned it into a little game between the two of them.

He’ll tell a porky pie and she’ll say – “Oh look! I can see your nose is growing.” Then he’ll say, “Just kidding!” Such a clever way to handle the lying thing at this cute stage.

However when my friend’s teenage daughters started lying, there was nothing cute about it. She wanted to go and hang out with her friends in Hyde Park at night and (rightly) thought her mum wouldn’t let her. So she lied and said she was going to see a film.

When my friend heard from other parents what the actual plan was, she did the right thing – she came down like a ton of bricks and grounded her daughter for 2 weeks. She didn’t shout and scream, she just explained to her daughter: “If you aren’t mature enough to tell me where you are going, then you aren’t mature enough to go out. I need to know where you are in case you have a problem, so I will know where to start looking for you. If I don’t know where you are or where you’re going, my hands are tied and I can’t help. Next time tell me where you’re going. If I say no, it will only be because I don’t think it’s a safe or good idea and I will explain why.”

Because she spoke to her daughter so sincerely and calmly about it, her daughter actually understood and ended up feeling that her mother was on her side – not an easy place to get to when you’ve just grounded your child!

Here are my top tips what to do when your child is lying.

Karen’s Simple Solutions – What to do (or NOT to do!) when you catch your child lying:



If your child is lying, listen and try to find out why. There will almost certainly be a reason underneath. Try saying calmly, “You must be worried about telling me what really happened.” Then wait quietly for an answer. In their own mind they will have had a good reason.


One of the best ways to encourage your children to be honest is to complement them when they tell the truth about something difficult. “It must have been hard to tell the truth about eating tonight’s dessert. Although I’m not pleased you did it, I am pleased that you owned up.”


Children who are spoken to reasonably instead of getting yelled at when they mess up are much more likely to admit it when they do.

If your children’s lies affect others, it’s important for them to take responsibility for their part of the trouble and to try to fix it. “When you told me you didn’t eat our dessert tonight, I believed you and blamed your sister. Now she is very upset with me and very cross with you. How do you think you can make it up to her?”

When you catch your children in a lie, help them to think of how they could have handled the situation differently and what they might do instead in future.

Know Yourself

Know Yourself

If your children catch you telling lies to your friends, your partner or to them, they’ll think telling lies is acceptable. It’s important for you to be honest and to be proud of being honest.

As almost all children will lie at some point, try to keep it in perspective when they do. Even if it’s bad, remain calm, clear and in control.

Lying is such a big topic for so many parents I devoted 2 weeks to it on Twitter.

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