17 answers

5 Year Old Lying

my daughter has been telling little lies and we catch her all the time when we ask her what happened she will automatically tell me she does not know or she will blame it on her sister, (when her sister is nowhere in sight). we have talked to her and told her she needs to tell the truth for everything and she has this blank look on her face and says "why?" I then have to explain it to her and I still don't think she understands. at what age do they start to understand this and what can I say to her to make her understand telling the truth is what we are supposed to do? any suggestions would help

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

My 6 year old has been doing that for a while. We tried and tried to explain that we were more frustrated with her when she lied than when she told the truth about something she shouldn't have done. It didn't work well.

I found better luck in Parenting with Love & Logic. They made the statement "We have a problem. I don't believe you. Now if I don't believe you and you are telling the truth, that's sad, but if I don't believe you and you are lying, that's double sad". It allows the child to think about what they are doing. It has worked very well for out daughter because you are making the statement "I don't believe you". She can't contest that like she can "no you didn't", "yes I did"...

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

My 6 year old has been doing that for a while. We tried and tried to explain that we were more frustrated with her when she lied than when she told the truth about something she shouldn't have done. It didn't work well.

I found better luck in Parenting with Love & Logic. They made the statement "We have a problem. I don't believe you. Now if I don't believe you and you are telling the truth, that's sad, but if I don't believe you and you are lying, that's double sad". It allows the child to think about what they are doing. It has worked very well for out daughter because you are making the statement "I don't believe you". She can't contest that like she can "no you didn't", "yes I did"...

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

First off, if it is becoming an issue with punishing too much (or you feel like that) take the opportunity to lie away. When you walk into a room and see her sitting in front of a dumped over plant, instead of asking what happened (which is a very big question for a 5 year old, with many many avenues of answers) I would ask her something along the lines of "did you knock the plant over with a toy?" therefore eliminating the many paths and directing her to the correct one. Just assess the situation and direct and control the conversation towards the truth and the easiest way for her to get there.

I would also ALWAYS be consistent about punishments for lies. In our home, a lie is ALWAYS big trouble, but you don't know for sure if your mistake was...so instead of guaranteeing a big punishment and whatever punishment might be happening, we always remind that they don't know what will happen by owning up to the offense but they DO know what will happen when they lie. Plus, it will usually add to the punishment for the mistake because instead of being happy they were honest and dealing with it outright, we have to finagle and argue about the truth which just irritates us more. This logic works a bit better when they understand the concept first--simplify for the younger ones. Good luck!!!

A.

we have a kind of unofficial family tradition in my family. whenever one of the kids starts lying, we sit down and tell them the story of "the little boy who cried wolf". and talk to them about why you don't lie. This has happened through three generations of our family now. as the others have said, kids just seem to go through this stage and it's not your fault as a parent. hang in there and good luck! :)

I've read in a lot of places that it's normal for this age to lie. Just reinforce that it's not ok. Some kids do it because they have a good imagination, so you have to help them word it in a different way, like, Oh, you wish this would happen, but it didn't really happen right? or that would be a fun thing to pretend, good imagination, or they're just trying to get attention and see how far you'll let it go. I was a preschool teacher and most of my 4 and 5 year olds went through this phase. There's a lot of resources available online to see how to handle this.

Dear L.,
It is very normal and even healthy for children between the ages of four and six to lie. I am a licensed clinical social worker and I have worked with families and have taught parenting skills for approx 10 years.
Children under than 6 (and most 7 year olds) do not have the cognitive ability to distinguish between reality and fiction. That is why it is so easy for them to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc. Even if you do not promote those beliefs in your home or your child is intellectually gifted she still has limited insight and judgement because she has the life experiences of a five year old. She also has the limited brain development of a five year old. The fact that she lies and then denies it means she is right where she needs to be developmentally. Instead of convincing her she should tell the truth, cut to the chase and say something like, "I know you are lying, lying is against the rules in this house and your punishment(or "consequence"/put your own word in) is such and such." (whatever you use as a consequence). Do not get caught up in arguing about whether or not she did or did not lie. In her mind she did not, but she also knows she is not telling things the way they really are. She has yet to understand how "not telling things the way they really are" equals lying.
Just because it is appropriate for her to lie does not mean she should be allowed to do so. She needs to hear from you(her moral "authorities") that it is wrong to lie. Eventually, when she is able to discern between reality and fiction she will have the correct moral compass and be motivated to tell the truth. In the mean time, help her to identify each lie that she makes by marking it with a consquence and wait this period out. If you are wondering about consequenting her even though it appears she "cannot help it" think of it this way. Young children do not share well either but we encourage or make them anyway. Young children frequently make loud and inaproppriate remarks about strangers in public, and we tell them "sshh!" even though they have no idea why. Young children don't understand bedtimes, why they have to each yucky food like vegetables and wear coats in the winter but we enforce these rules anyway. With a "no lying" rule, you are just enforcing another rule along with all of the rest of them that they do not understand. Eventually she will catch on. Try to enjoy the explanations she creates, she will be a little genious (not a sociopath) during this time period and her inplausable excuses will suddenly become funny once you understand the reasons behind them. Just try not to let her see you laugh.

We had discussions with our 5-yo about lying when she was about 4. We would give examples and ask if it was a lie or not. For instance, I would say "I ate all my vegetables" when I clearly had some on my plate, and we'd ask her if I was lying. Then I'd say "I'm wearing a blue shirt" when I WAS wearing a blue shirt and ask her if I was lying. We would do this periodically and make a game out of it.

And we had to explain the difference between lying that is mean and just being silly. For example, we'd say "Daddy has a green egg on his head" and we'd have her say if that was being silly or lying. (We'd give real examples too, where we'd take something away from someone and say "I didn't take that")

We also explained to her why we shouldn't lie. We'd give her scenarios and ask how that would make her feel-- like if someone took her pencil and then said they didn't take it. I think applying it to their life and asking how it would make them feel really drives it home for them. My daughter is 5 now, and she seems to understand what lying is and that she shouldn't do it. Each child is different, but I would say that if you make a game of it with your daughter (probably at times when she has not just been lying would be best), she should be able to understand.

As a parent, you may be interested in a university study about how kids think about other people's thinking. We will ask you to watch with your child three brief, online videos of puppet actors and then to record your child's answers to questions about what the puppets are thinking. We will also ask you some general questions about yourself, your child, and your household. Participation would take less than 15 minutes, and it's a great way for you and your child to contribute to our knowledge of how children think. For more details go to the following address:
http://www.milestoneshome.org/current/thinking/

Best wishes,

Kimberly

I read somewhere (Parents magazine, maybe?) that that is very normal. Children that age don't understand that they are lying per se. Just continue to explain it at this point. Once she does understand (and you'll be able to tell), you can offer consequences.

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.