Parenting with Positivism : Issue 11

June 2015

Have you ever thought why do kids resort to lying? Have you ever found out that your child is lying to you sometimes?

Mostly kids lie because they don’t have another way of dealing with a problem or conflict. In fact, sometimes it’s the only way they know how to solve a problem; it’s almost like a faulty survival skill for kids. It is really your job to differentiate the type of lie your child has told, and make sure that it isn’t connected to unsafe, illegal or risky behavior. When your child lies to you, it hurts. As parents, you may get angry and may also feel like you can never trust your child again. Why does lying cause such anger, pain and worry for you?

Your kid’s honesty becomes the connector between what’s happening to him on the outside world and what happens at home. Parents should encourage kids to tell them honestly regarding the event of lie, so that they can honestly discuss with the child and decide if that’s best solution. And without taking sides, parents should get the information, and help the child make the right choices, right decisions.

It is easy to see your kid as ‘sneaky’ when they lie; especially if they continue to lie to you. You might feel undermined; that your child is going behind your back and that the child may go haywire. You may begin to think that your kids are “bad.” The connection our mind makes is that lying is bad, therefore, liars are bad too!

Why Kids Lie

  • To establish identity: to connect with peers, even if it’s a false identity. They think that fooling someone is ‘cool’.
  • To individuate from parents: to keep parts of their lives separate from their parents. At times it may even seem that they make up small lies about things that don’t even seem terribly important. Another reason children lie is when they perceive the house rules and restrictions to be too tight.
  • To get attention: a way for them to engage their imaginations and start to make sense of the world around them.
  • To avoid hurting other’s feelings: Lying is a first step toward learning how to say something more carefully.
  • To avoid trouble: rather than suffer the consequences, they lie to avoid getting into trouble.

How to Address Lying: Staging a “Lying Intervention”

While it’s important to address the behavior behind the lying, if your child lies chronically or lies about unsafe, risky or unhealthy behavior, it makes sense to address the actual lying by having an intervention. A “lying intervention” is really just a planned and structured conversation about the lying behavior.  This lets your child know what you’ve been seeing, and gives you a chance to tell them that you are concerned. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Plan ahead of time: Think about how you’re going to intervene beforehand.
  • Don’t lecture: When you catch your child lying, remember that lecturing is not going to be helpful. So what you need to do instead is to identify what it is that you’re seeing and what you’re concerned about.
  • Be specific and talk about what’s obvious:  Remember, it has to be a consequence that you can actually deliver on and are willing to follow through with.
  • Don’t be too complicated in your message: Keep it very focused and simple for your child; concentrate on the behavior.

If You Catch Your Child Telling a Lie

  • Don’t react in the moment
  • Instead, send them to their room/corner for both to calm down.
  • Strategize within the family; take time to think about it
  • When you do talk, don’t argue with your child about the lie.
  • Just state what you saw, and what is obvious. You may not know the reason behind it, but eventually your child might fill you in on it. Again, simply state the behaviors that you saw.

A Word about “Magical Thinking”

Be aware that kids and adolescents are prone to engage in “magical thinking.” This means that when your child gets away with a few lies, he will start thinking he should be able to get away with them the next time. Often that just feeds on itself, and the lies become more and more abundant—and absurd. Your child might convince himself they’re true in order to get out of the trouble. But it’s your job as a parent to say as matter–of–fact as possible what you feel is the truth. Acknowledge the lie, but give the consequence for the behavior, not for the lie.Realize that most kids are not going to lie forever and ever. There are a very small percentage of kids who lie chronically, and more difficult for parents to deal with. Usually, kids don’t lie arbitrarily; they have a reason for doing so, no matter how faulty that reason might be. Your child really does know right from wrong, but sometimes he overrides the truth. Take help professionally if your kid is lying about something that’s risky or illegal or really unsafe and/or chronic.


We are sure many of our parents may have some incidents about their kids “lying” behavior and how they resolved it, to share with co-parents. Why don’t you share your experiences with us? Write in to us at [email protected] and we will publish them on our website! Make sure your write ups are 1000 words or less, and feel free to write in any language. In case you would like to write by hand, please send to Jaipuria Corporate Office at Delhi or drop by and deliver at any of our schools. We will be waiting to hear from you!