Why Do Children Lie and How To Prevent It

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Noticing children lying a lot is worth thinking about. Here is a deep guide on why children lie and how to prevent it. Check it out!


by Mike Rumble |Mike Rumble is a former detective with years of experience in the investigation and lie detection field. He has been the advocate for polygraph tests for more than three decades. He is the founder and chief examiner of Lie Detectors UK Services, the most prestigious Polygraph company in the UK. You can follow Mike and his company on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Or you can email him.

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If you’re a parent, you’ve probably dealt with your child lying to you at some point. But why do children lie, and is there anything you can do to prevent it?

Children lie for a variety of reasons, and yes, there are some things parents can do to help prevent their children from lying. In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons why kids lie and offer some tips on how to encourage truthful behavior in your home. 

We hope this information will help you build stronger relationships with your children and keep them safe from the consequences of lying.

Photo by Jordane Maldaner from Pexels 

So, Why Do Kids Lie?

To Get Attention

Children who feel that they are not receiving enough love or attention from their parents may start to lie in order to get noticed. They may exaggerate their stories or make up tall tales in an attempt to seem more interesting or important. 

Unfortunately, this can often backfire, as other kids may see through the lies and start to tease or exclude the child. In some cases, the child may even begin to believe their own lies, further damaging their self-esteem.

Sometimes They Confuse the Imagination With Reality

Children often confuse fantasy and reality. This can happen when they’ve seen something on TV or in a movie, and they mistakenly believe it to be true. 

For example, a child who has just seen a movie about flying saucers might believe that aliens are real and start telling stories about them. They may also make up stories based on things they’ve heard from others. 

To Hide Something in Order to Avoid the Negative Consequences

One of the most common reasons why kids lie is to avoid the negative consequences of their actions. For example, a child might lie about eating candy before dinner in order to avoid getting scolded. Or, a child might lie about doing their homework in order to avoid getting a punishment.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that lying is not always an effective way to avoid the negative consequences of one’s actions. In fact, it often makes things worse.

Signs That Your Child is Lying

There are some common signs you can detect to guess if your kids are lying. Here are several:

They Are Often Avoiding Eye Contact While Talking to You

When children lie, they often avoid making eye contact. They may also fidget, touch their face, or look away while talking. 

These are all signs that your child is feeling uncomfortable and is trying to avoid being caught in a lie. Of course, these signs don’t necessarily mean that your child is lying, but they’re worth paying attention to.

Feeling Uncomfortable While Telling You the Truth You Asked for

There are times when children feel compelled to lie, whether it is to avoid getting in trouble or because they are embarrassed about something. 

For example, if you ask them a question and they start fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, or sweating, it may be a sign that they’re hiding something.

Overreacting to Your Accusations

One sign your kid may be lying is overreacting to your accusations. If you simply ask your child whether they did something, and they immediately become defensive, it may be an indication that they are guilty. 

Another sign to watch out for is inconsistency in their stories. If your child’s story changes from one telling to the next, it’s likely that they are making things up as they go along. 

How Common Is Lying Among Children?

A recent study found that 96 percent of children lie on a regular basis. The research, which was conducted by a team of psychologists at the University of Toronto, looked at a variety of different types of lying, including white lies, stretching the truth, and outright deception. 

The research was conducted by asking children aged 3-10 about their lying habits and observing them in various situations.  

Children who lie frequently may struggle with low self-esteem, anxiety, or ADHD. If you’re concerned that your child may be lying too much, it’s important to talk to your pediatrician or mental health professional. 

With early intervention, children can learn how to better manage their emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

When Your Children Lie, Should You Be Worried?

As a parent, it can be difficult to know how to respond when your child tells a lie. Should you be worried?

Generally speaking, there’s no need to be overly concerned when your child tells a lie. it’s important to take into account your child’s age and developmental stage. 

Younger children are still learning about the difference between truth and fiction, and they may not always understand the consequences of their actions. As such, it’s important to provide them with guidance and patience.

Also, It’s normal for children to want to avoid getting in trouble, and most kids will outgrow this phase as they mature. However, there are some red flags that may indicate a more serious problem. 

For example, if your child is frequently lying or if their lies seem elaborate or complicated, it could be a sign that they’re struggling with something bigger. In these cases, it’s important to talk to your child and see if there’s anything going on that they need help with.

What to Do When Your Kids Are Lying

When you catch your kids lying, it’s important to handle the situation in a way that will discourage them from repeating the behavior in the future. By handling lies in a constructive way, you can help your child develop into an honest and trustworthy person.

Let Them Understand Truth Reduce Consequences

One way to help your child in a lying situation is to let them understand the importance of truth and the consequences of lying. Explain to them why it is important to be honest, and why lying is bad. 

Help them to see that there are consequences for lying, such as losing your trust or being punished. This can help them to understand why they should tell the truth in the future.

Differentiate Them the Imagination and Reality

In many cases, children may not be aware that they are telling a lie. They may simply be confused about what is real and what is fantasy. For this reason, it is important to try to help your child understand the difference between imagination and reality. 

One way to do this is to ask them questions about the story they are telling. Encourage them to stick to the facts and avoid making things up. 

Be a Good Role Model

If you want your child to be truthful, then you need to be truthful yourself. Kids are like sponges. They absorb everything they see and hear. They will think it’s okay to lie if you lie to them. Be honest with your kids and set a good example for them. 

Explain to them why honesty is important and how lying can hurt people. Let them know that you expect them to be honest with you and others.

Praise The Honesty

One way to encourage honesty is to praise children when they admit to a lie. Try to reinforce the value of honesty by saying something like, “I’m so glad you told me the truth. It’s really important, to be honest.” 

This will help your child feel good about being honest and may encourage them to be more truthful in the future. This shows them that you value honesty and that you’re more likely to trust them in the future if they’re truthful. 

You can also use this opportunity to talk about why honesty is important and how lying can hurt people’s feelings. By handling the situation calmly and positively, you can help your child learn the importance of honesty and build trust between you.

What You Shouldn’t Do When You Find Out They Are Lying

There are some things a parent should not do when they find out their kid is lying. They are:

Don’t Get Over Aggressive

As a parent, it can be frustrating to deal with children who lie. However, it is important to handle the situation calmly and avoid getting too aggressive. If a child feels attacked, they may become defensive and be less likely to open up about what they did or why they did it. 

upset little ethic boy looking at faceless father during argument
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Instead, try to have a calm conversation with your child about why honesty is important. Explain that you understand it can be difficult to tell the truth sometimes but that you are there to help them through it. 

Let them know that you love them no matter what and that you will always be there for them. With patience and understanding, you can help your child learn to be honest.

Don’t Give Them the Lier Tag

One of the most important things not to do when your children lie is give them the “liar” tag. This label can stick with a child and make them feel like they can never measure up.

In addition, calling your child a liar will only make them feel defensive and less likely, to tell the truth in the future. Instead of using this label, try to have a calm discussion with your child about why honesty is important. 

The Takeaway

When you start noticing children lying, don’t fret. Use some or all of the tips in this guide to get you and your child through it. Remember, they’re learning to be in this world just like the rest of us, so be patient with your kids, too.