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How to Handle Children Who Lie

How to Handle Children Who Lie

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - January 23rd, 2014

Have you noticed that your child has been lying more than normal? Some children will lie in a general way about all sorts of things because they’ve learned that the strategy is an effective strategy. They’ve maybe gotten away with it for a while without the adults noticing and they’ve learned, “Hey, I can do this.” It’s become an effective strategy for them.

They key there is to intervene and talk to them about the importance of honesty and that lying is not an effective strategy, and give them other strategies to deal with what they’re lying about. Especially if they’re starting to get involved in delinquent behavior, you need to address if it is their friends that are peer-pressuring the bad behavior or if they are the impetus behind the bad behavior, such as cutting class and shoplifting.

The other type of lying that you see in children is to lie to manipulate the adults around them. In some cases, for instance, we see this sometimes happen in children where their parents are fighting or getting a divorce. The children sometimes start lying because they learn that it’s a strategy to start controlling their environment in a situation where they don’t feel very in control. They learn to lie to try to manipulate, and they can get away with it because at that point the adults are not communicating very well so they’re able to do that.

You have to look at what has precipitated the lying and to deal with both the lying and what is precipitating it. You really do have to ask yourself, “What’s going on here? Why is this happening?” I remember when my daughter used to go to school and there was a period where she was taking a hockey stick to school every day. I thought she was playing hockey. She told me she was playing hockey. I later found out that some girls had threatened to beat her up and she was carrying the hockey stick because it helped her feel protected. It was one of those things where getting to the bottom of it really made a difference. I wasn’t even upset about her lying behavior. I was must more upset that she felt that she had to carry a hockey stick to school to be protected.

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