What to do when you child starts lying?

As a parent, I’ve been dealing with a very tough situation with my almost ten year old.  For about the past year my husband and I have caught him lying on occasion about different random things.  I originally thought that it was just a phase he was going through and that he would grow out of it because I remember lying to my parents as an adolescent about some things.  The problem we are encountering is that not only is it not going away but it has gotten SO much worse!  He lies about everything (and I mean everything!) We can stand there and watch him do something and if you ask him about it he will look at you and deny and make up a different story when he clearly knows that you have seen him.

It has been very frustrating to me as a parent to try and figure out what to do to handle this situation.  To figure out what to do I first sat down and had to figure out why he may be lying.  I thought maybe if there was a reason he felt he needed to lie that I could fix that and this whole mess would stop.  I did a ton of research and these are the top reasons a child may lie:

  • Get Attention
  • Not to hurt others feelings
  • Avoid Trouble

For my son, I believe his number one reason for lying is definitely to avoid trouble.  He thinks that if he can lie about something that he did that was a bad choice then he won’t get in trouble and will get away with it.  He has always been a child that likes to push us (his dad and I) as far as he can to see what he can get away with it.  I think he may be doing some of it to get attention but I don’t think that really plays into the situation as much as the avoiding trouble.

What to do when your child lies

Now that I knew what may be causing the lies, I had to sit down and think for many hours about what the right steps and actions would be to correct this problem.  These are the solutions that I had come up with:

  1. Sit him down and talk to him.  I don’t mean sit there and lecture him about how lying is wrong.  I think you need to explain to them that lying is wrong but you also need to actually talk to them, find out how they are feeling about it, give some examples of ways that telling lies hurt people, etc.
  2. Make sure that he feels he can come to you about anything.  It is very very important as a parent to make sure your child feels like they can come and talk to you about anything no matter how big or small and that you are going to be open and understanding.  I can tell you from personal experience of growing up in a house where I was NOT able to come to my parents with my feelings and problems it was very difficult on me especially as a teenager.
  3. Make sure that you and your spouse do not lie.  If your child grows up seeing you lie about different things they are going to feel like its okay to lie and then are in turn going to lie.  Take a step back for a moment and make sure that you are setting a good example for your child.
  4. Avoid other “situations” where the child is told lying is okay.  This was a big thing for my family because when I sat down and looked at the situation I felt that most of my son’s behavior was coming from classmates at school.  I worked in my child’s school up until recently teaching and I knew first hand what the kids were like and let me tell you I was not at all okay with most of it.  My husband and I have worked very hard to teach our children what is right and wrong and then I would send my children to school where they are being taught the opposite of what we taught them.  My son is in the 4th grade and being “popular” was a huge issue.  In order to be popular he had to fit in with these other kids and that meant doing what they do.  Let me tell you some of the issues we have faced from this group is swearing, stealing, lying, sexual acts, and a lot of fighting.  I never imagined that I would have to deal with this stuff in Elementary school but the reality is that it is very common nowadays.  Due to this, my husband and I felt that homeschooling my kids for at least awhile would be the best choice.  I think getting him away from the bad surroundings will help us gain some control and reteach what is right and wrong.  We will look at placing him in a charter school in the future if he decides he wants to go back to school but definitely not into a public school.
  5. Another way that we are trying to reinforce lying is wrong is by attending church regularly.  We feel that by having our children participate in church and church related programs it will help them to learn better morals and that lying is not okay.

These are just some of the ways that my husband and I came up with to help our situation.  Some of these may help your child and some of them might not.  I think it depends on the child and the family.

Have you ever faced this situation with one of your children?  I would love to hear your input and maybe gain some more tips to help out!


  1. Great job in researching this. Your son is fortunate to have a mother like you. The only thing I would add to your list is for parents to look at themselves to see if the punishments they give fit the offense. It’s worth it to the child to lie when punishments are extreme all the time. They might just avoid punishment by lying and if they don’t, it’s not any worse than if they’d told the truth.

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