Why is my child lying?

What is your reaction when you realise your child's been lying to you? Do you admonish the child, or do you try to reason with him? Knowing why the child is lying is essential before you take a remedial course. Learn to identify the situations that make a child lie.

Kids lie, often innocently, sometimes deliberately and at others intelligently. There are many reasons why kids lie, and it's intriguing to watch a child build a yarn, to get out of trouble. You can almost see the little mind at work. I like most educationists believe that a child's ability to lie is a sign of his intelligence. The child who tells lies is smart enough to realise when he's in trouble and intelligent enough to come up with ways to wriggle out it.

It's a sign that the brain is working; it is sifting through information and deciding on an escape route. While a certain amount of lying is a sign of a smart child, lying too often and may not be that healthy for the child's overall development.

Lies built around fantasies of fairies and superheroes and invisible friends are innocent lies. The child's stoking his imagination. On the other hand, a child who says he finished the glass of milk when he poured it down the kitchen sink is telling a flat lie. There are times when it's fine to ignore the behaviour, but it is a reason for concern when the frequency of the lying increases. You have a problem at hand when the child is lying about everything.

Lying is concerning to parents, but knowing why the child could be lying makes them better prepared to deal with it. With a little bit of awareness, you can get the truth out.

Why do children lie?

Children lie because of fear of punishment or because they do not want to do a chore or study etc. They can also lie if they want something. I recall a case where a child whose parents weren't giving him money to spend in the school canteen was making up stuff to get the money. He was misleading his parents to believe that the school was asking for money. His deception was unmasked at the Parent Teacher Meeting, when the parents questioned the constant demand for money, by the school. These are the most common stimulations for a child to lie, but there are other reasons why a child might mislead others.

To boost self-image and gain acceptance

A child may lie to impress his peers. They weave tall tales, often unbelievable anecdotes, to rise in the eyes of their peers. Such children develop a knack for creating lies about themselves and extraordinary situations, involving them. All their stories are wildly exaggerated, but the other kids don't see through their fantasy.

However, their yarns get them the attention they seek; it is a big ego-booster, just what they desire. They speak of incredible incidents and encounters. For instance, I recall a boy in my class who had spun this story about coming face-to-face with a tiger, in the Jim Corbett National Park and how he had scared away the wildcat.

His courage and adventure enamoured the rest of the class. The truth as it turned out was that he had spent his summer vacation reading Ruskin Bond, at his uncle's place. He was fantasising, all the while, and it got him quite a huge fan following.

As an experiment

Some children lie to try something novel and exciting. They lie to experience the thrill of lying. It is a whim; they test the waters with their lies to see how far they can stretch it and what they stand to gain.

Often these children would have observed adults telling lies, and they imitate them. A child sees his father call up his office to say someone in the family is dead so that he could get a day off. The child takes the cue from the father and starts behaving similarly. He pretends that he has a stomach ache, to miss school. He tries his luck.

To shift attention off themselves

Some children don't like the fuss or are embarrassed about something, so they lie to deviate the focus off them. This kind of children are usually victims of depression or anxiety, and they lie to get off the centre stage.

An example of such a child is someone who pretends he does not feel hungry because he is not bringing tiffin to school or lies about not interested in taking part in the school annual day function because he knows his parents cannot afford the money for the costume. He makes things up, to hide his real emotions.

Think too much

Such children will tell you that they thought they didn't have homework, even though they have noted it in the school diary. They will say convincing lies that appear as though they didn't remember all the things that they were supposed to do.

It is a lie, alright, but children who lie about forgetting to do things maybe suffering from ADHD. They need help with remembering to do things, and become organised and focused. Memory enhancing techniques can help such children break the habit of lying. Parents of children with ADHD must practice do's and don'ts for a better learning environment.

Little white liers

These kids tell well-intentioned untruths, it is harmless, of course; nonetheless, it is still lying. Children often learn to tell half-truths from their parents. They are encouraged to lie as part of developing social skills. Parents stop children from being brutally honest because it comes across as being rude.

Shh! Don't say the food is terrible or the gift is horrible, say something pleasant and be thankful, is what parents teach their children. Parents instil ethical values in their children and inadvertently teach them to be dishonest. However, such lies it is not considered as deceit. The child will become ostracised for his candid views. So, while it is a lie, it is often looked upon as the right thing to do. Although it can have repercussions, a child who sees a white lie as something that others believe may begin lying in other situations as well. It is important to stress that the lie is said not to offend others.


Author: Umesh05 Jul 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

An excellent article on why children lie. A child who lies regularly is a challenge for the parents as sometimes it will be difficult to find out whether he is telling a lie or not. Some children will slowly become expert in telling lies and from their facial expression or mannerism, it will not be easy to catch them. The parents have to be extra cautious in such a situation and should keep a track of the child's activities and the company he is keeping in school or after school while playing outdoors. Child's brain is like a blank slate on which any new thing is easily engraved and if he learns to lie from his friends then it will be quick adoption of this unwanted trait.

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