March 12, 2008,
T.W. asks from College Station, TX on March 07, 2008
5 Year Old Lies All the Time!
In the last few weeks my five year old daughter has started lying. It is driving my husband and I bonkers! We did not have this problem with our son who is now nine. To make it worse she makes what we call a "bad choice" first and then lies about it. For example, I asked her to use the potty this morning. She goes in the bathroom and flushes the potty without going. She comes out and says she's done. I know she didn't go because she has on a pair of pants she cannot snap and they are still snapped shut. When I ask her about it she lies. She even blamed something on her brother the other day rather than admit she did it.
We've been taking things away... t.v., her favorite toys, and giving time out. Nothing seems to be changing the behavior. We've even talked about how lying is hurtful and not a good choice. Usually taking is not as effective for the young ones! I guess I'm just wondering if this is normal and if anyone has had success changing the behavior. Thanks!
So What Happened?™
Wow! Thanks for all the great answers. It is good to know that others have gone through the same thing. This has helped me see that she has probably reached a new developmental stage. She know more clearly knows what she is doing isn't right and lies to cover-up and please us. I think it has gotten a little better. I asked her if she had brushed her teeth like I asked. She hesitated, but said "no" and then added "you're welcome for me not lying"!
We will definately try using some more of these great ideas. My husband and I loved the answer from the five year old!! I think the overall theme was to consistently call her on it and let there be a consequence. We did talk some about it being hurtful... how would she feel if I lied to her. Also, we talked to her about not trusting her answers.
Thanks again... this was my first question. I'll definatly try again.
B.F. answers from Houston on March 10, 2008
T. I think all kids go thru that stage.I finally got my kid s to stop lying when they saw (Pinochino)I hope that is the right spelling of it(lol).I told them that their nose will start to grow everytime they told a lie and all the kids at school will laugh at them when they see thier nose is so long.Try that and see if it will work.B. F.
K.V. answers from Austin on March 08, 2008
Have you read her the story of The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf? Tell her if she lies all the time, no one will believe her when she tells the truth. Then try it out on her. Wait until she tells you something and pretend you don't believe her. Or show her what it is like...maybe she doesn't quite understand what lying is. Whatever you do, ALWAYS call her on it. Do not allow her to think she is getting away with it.
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C.J. answers from Austin on March 07, 2008
From one neighbor to another (I also live in the Del Valle area) this is how I handled the situation with my son who did this quite a bit around that age. I finally sat him down and told him that God watches and listens to everything we do and say and writes it in his book. That book is your book and is filled with your good and bad things. When it is time to meet God he is going to open that book and praise you for all the good things you have done in your life, but he is also going to ask you about the bad things. How are you going to respond to those questions? Everytime he told a story I knew wasnt true or refused to accept responsibility for his actions I would simply say "remember God is listening and watching". I think handling it this way had a positive reaction from him because his storytelling and blaming others for his actions ceased to almost nothing in about 2 weeks. My son is 11 now and occassionaly I have to remind him of this because he isnt perfect but it has worked perfectly. I am also not a person who goes to church constantly so my solution is not about church -- it is simply instilling in your children that there is someone even higer up than Moms and Dads to answer to.
Good luck and I hope this helps.
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A.E. answers from Austin on March 08, 2008
In child phych class I learned that at about age 4 children learn that they can change words to get what they want. So this is where your daughter is. Perhaps she is just smart and really working hard at figuring this out.
The thing that seemed to work for us with our kids was a combination of things. First, they have to know that Mom and Dad hate lies worse than anything else. Your tone and demeanor have to communicate this. If your response to a lie is the same as your response to not putting away toys...you won't communicate what you need to communicate. The punishment for telling a lie has to be greater than anything else. Because, this is a character issue that cannot go unfixed--even if it takes a while.
To avoid getting a lie in the first place, we learned to ask our questions in such a way as to get the truth out the first time...to make it as easy as possible to tell the truth. When we know something has happened (let's say she colored on the wall), we say, "Mom and Dad are going to ask you a couple of questions and you are going to tell the truth. We already know that you colored on the wall. Now you are going to tell us that you did it. You need to try really hard to tell us that you did it, the first time we ask. You need to say, 'Mom and Dad, I colored on the wall.' Remember that Mom and Dad hate lying more than anything else. Remember that the consequences for telling a lie are always always worse than if you just tell the truth. If you tell the truth you may get in this much trouble (show with two fingers about an inch apart). If you tell a lie, you will get in this much trouble (show hands far apart) and Mom and Dad will be very sad. Now we are about to ask you if you colored on the wall. Remember we already know you did it. You are going to be punished for coloring on the wall. The best thing is for you to tell the truth, say you did it, and get your little punishment. Then you will be punished and it will be over. Are you ready to tell the truth? I am about to ask you and you need to say these words, 'Yes, Mom and Dad, I colored on the wall.' Are you ready?"
We also played a little game that I learned from Dr. Dobson I think. Kids need practice thinking and labeling the truth and lies. When they first start out telling lies, it is an intellectual decision to use words to their advantage (plus it's part of our human nature to sin). The game is called "Truth or Lie." You tell the kid something and they say whether it is the truth or a lie. Here are some examples. Then they can give the examples and you can be the one to answer. They like the game as long as they aren't already in trouble.
The sky is blue - truth
The grass is green - truth
The clouds are green - lie
The dog sleeps on the roof - lie
Mom drives a little blue car - true
Dad drives a helicopter to work - false
...just make sure your examples are completely easy to answer and that they are not opinions
You have to also not tolerate your kids beating around the bush about things. We still tell our kids "not to make us ask the right questions." The first time I remember going though this was my son pushed my daughter on the steps. He answered "no" to about 5 different questions about pushing her before he said "I only shoved her." So they have to know that you want the truth, the whole truth, and nothiing but the truth and you want it the first time. We use those words "don't make me ask the right questions."
ok--hope it helps. This is common and it must be addressed. It is a pain to do, but you have to stick to it.
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A.P. answers from Austin on March 09, 2008
We mom's are the best CSI team in the world! lol!
Listen, first you have to figure out why she is telling that particular lie (ie, to try to get out of trouble, to test you to see if you are a complete fool, to test the rule, to see how you are going to react, its just her imagination, etc) then let your reaction match the situation. Lies have a reason though - some are innocent developmental reasons, some are not.
For example - the bathroom scenario - she might just be testing you to see if you're paying attention. I'd react with questions and facts: "I heard the toliet flush, but you're pants are still buttoned. Did you really go, or are you playing a trick on me?" (PS, this gives her an easy out, but lets her know you didn't fall for it either) This is not a critical situation and does not call for a critical reaction. It sounds like your everyday testing.
Big lies to get out of trouble - make sure the lie gets her in more trouble than the actual act itself (oh, and make sure you don't stress about the small stuff because that makes her feel like she HAS to lie in the first place)
Creative imagination lies - respond with "Oh, yeah - then what?" and let the story continue. Get her some paper and get these ideas out in a grossly exaggerated tale of debauchery! lol! Smile and wink and let her know you know better, but this lie is a little fun anyway!
Blaming it on other people - 2 steps:
1. Ask her what she thinks is an appropriate punishment for brother because of his awful crime.
2.Okay Judge Judy -call the next witness. Get brother, the dog, dad - whomever might know anything about it in there. Use the great questioning techniques that mom's are famous for and catch her in the lie, then make her apologize to brother (the dog, who ever) for bringing them into it. Don't forget to get back to the original crime and the punishment she suggested!
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T.E. answers from Houston on March 08, 2008
If I remember correctly from my child psychology text books (since I have minimal personal experience with this issue right now :-) ), 5 year olds have a hard time telling the difference between fantasy and reality. So when your daughter says she went potty when she didn't or blames something on her brother, she's probably just engaging in wishful thinking. Unfortunately, she can't communicate that to you, so she comes across as "lying" when really what she means is "I sure wish my brother had done that/I had gone to the potty/etc".
The parent's job then is not to punish, but to interpret the situation for the child in a neutral (teaching) way. For example you might say "I see that you had a difficult time going potty since your snaps are still done. Can I help?" or "I see the lamp is broken, what should we do about it?" This keeps you from labeling your child and allows them to try to come up with a solution (always a good thing to learn how to do). Remember, punishment is never as effective as reinforcement and support.
I hope this helps. I haven't had this particular experience yet, but the techniques I've suggested are similar to ones I've used with my 2 year old.
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K.M. answers from Austin on March 08, 2008
I used to experience with this with a little girl that I taught in Sunday school, so I read up on it. What I read says, a lot of the "lies" are them playing out their pretend makeup games in real life. My daughter (also 5) will say some of the craziest stuff and sometimes I'll even ask her if she is being "for real" or pretend. They have a hard time breaking the difference right now. My opinion is that it is not a discipline or character problem, it is just a transition period for them until they have play world and real world more figured out. Best of luck! K.
L.M. answers from Austin on March 09, 2008
As you can see everyone will tell you this is age appropriate behavior. I have rarely had trouble with this issue with my children as mine are perfect. LOL
I find that keeping things very lighthearted and appearing more as a peer than a parent has always been great. If I had known it would be next to impossible to operate the snap on her pants I would have asked her when she came out if she had trouble with the snap when she came out. I have always found that my kids have extremely active imaginations and lieing is sometimes just an extention of the imagination.
Sometimes the lies are out of fear as well. If they are fearful of your reaction then they will answer you with the what they think you want to hear or what will keep them out of trouble. I spent much time assuring them that nothing they could do would make me angry with them and I practiced responding in a calm voice if they said something shocking. If you spend time reasoning with them and asking them questions you already know the answer too in a light and calm way they will feel more at ease letting you know they are less than perfect. I don't know if this is the problem with your child or not. I often found my daughters were much more insecure in their actions than my son. Build her self esteem and chances are she will grow out of this attention seeking and evasive behavior quickly.
T.S. answers from Houston on March 12, 2008
My 5 yr old son does "lies" all the time. He will do something and when we discover it he blames it on his 8 yr old sister or says "It wasn't me", or "I didn't do it". I have told him that lying is bad and children who lie won't get treats, get their toys taken away, and even get time out. He thinks for a minute and then says, "OK, it was me". I have come to the resolution that it is a cry for attention. He is transistioning from Toddler to Child. Very confusing for them. My daughter did the same things and when I punished her, and now punishing my son, they realize how serious a lie is. From time outs to takenm away stuff that means alot to them, it will resolve. Good Luck
J.W. answers from Austin on March 08, 2008
When my child was 5, she began conducting births with her stuffed animals. I bought Arnold Gesell's book, The Child from Five to Ten, and was relieved to find out this was "normal" for her age. I think you'll be interested to know that lying is also a developmental stage. Good luck! J.