Why Do Children Lie?

How many times have you caught your kids doing something they are not supposed to be doing? Faking a cold to skip school, breaking your favorite glass then blaming the cat or even something as ridiculous as “I lifted the car with my own two hands today!”. While you’re trying to keep your cool holding back your laughter, in these cases all you can think about is, “why do they have to lie?”
Even though it may not seem like the thing, but underneath every fabricated story that a child tells is a hidden meaning being conveyed.

The Innocent Lie

Growing up never makes sense, especially to children who are just starting to see the world around them. At this time when they are exploring and discovering the new world, their minds are full of fantasies and imaginative thoughts which, most of the time, they are unable to differentiate from the real world. This sometimes leads them to creating bizzare scenarios and believing it, thinking that you will as well.

This lie is an innocent example of children portraying their imaginative thoughts into their real life routine. It’s not something to worry about though, it’s just an example of the growth of their cognitive minds when the world around them doesn’t seem to make sense. So if your children start playing with an imaginary friend or talks about how they came across a cat with three eyes and a green tail, it’s just their mind trying to adjust into something completely out of the ordinary.

Attention Seeking Lie

Apart from the prior example, sometimes a lie could also be a silent cry for attention, from trying to be in your good graces to boosting up their own self esteem. This is when you should really pay attention to what your children are saying. If they often come up to you with a new story of how they did a particular thing that didn’t really happen in the first place, that’s when you know something else is being said. It’s important to note the pattern of the lie alongside the behavior, for example, do your children often cause trouble or are saying something that puts them in the spotlight? Are they making up a story that makes you proud? The pattern of each lie discerns an underlying trouble they might be going through and its vital to keep note of it all the while teaching them the importance of speaking the truth.

The “Cover Up”

Children are not very good at owning up to their actions, it’s even worse if they believe the truth will end up putting them in even bigger trouble. Lying is always the simpler way to avoid the consequences and if given the choice of right and wrong, they pick the latter. Matters are always made worse when the fact of “disciplinary action” comes into play. The fear of being punished for the truth makes them want to lie even more and this is where you are put to the test. Your child should know that the truth may be bitter for a short while but it is always fruitful. Therefore, it’s best to reward them or tell them how proud you are of them for speaking the truth rather than giving a punishment for telling a lie. This gives them the encouragement to go in the right direction.

Copy Cat

Have you ever received a call from someone you don’t want to talk to so you simply tell your child to tell a white lie for you? Be careful! Children are like sponges, they absorb everything you say and do.Therefore, without really giving a second thought, telling your child to lie for you will usually give them the green light to act upon something you’ve done yourself failing to acknowledg how wrong it really is. But don’t worry, we all go wrong here sometimes. However, it’s always better to pay attention to yourself as well.

The Little Con-Man Lie

Children always want things to go their way and they’ll do anything to ensure that it does. So, if your children come up to you to ask if it’s okay for them to go to their friend’s house and you’re too tired to think if it’s a good idea, you do the simplest thing, “Honey, go ask your father.” This is when they know they don’t really have to, they can just lie to their father and get their way. The leniency gives them the go-ahead to lie their way through everything, including in the school. A simple action can lead to very dire consequences beginning from making excuses for not doing their homework and moving forward to making their way through bunking school and so on.

Tween Trouble

We’ve all gone through the “rebellious phase” in our life where we are beginning to grow up and the world seems to be against us. This is the toughest phase to handle and usually it is at this stage when maturity begins to seep into your children and they act out the way they deem best, i.e, lying. Sometimes your child is going through their own set of troubles that they don’t want to involve you in and if you keep asking them about the details of their day, they usually either keep quiet or fabricate a story to keep you involved. Even though it might not seem right to not involve yourself, it’s always best to leave your children and allow them to grow at their own pace.

It’s always better to keep a friendly yet authoritative relationship with your child. If they know that there is no communication barrier between you two, it will automatically reduce the chances of them lying to you. As mentioned above as well, it’s also better to emphasize on the importance of speaking the truth and the rewards it holds. Regardless, at the end of the day, children will lie. Even though it’s not an acceptable attribute, but it’s just something that they do and if your child is lying, it simply means they are growing up.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options 2017.

Browse other Parenting Guide articles from Nanny Options
or keep up to date with us on Facebook.