13 answers

Breaking My Eight Year Old's "Lying Habit"

Please help! My daughter is 8 years old, and has developed a serious habit of lying! As a toddler I praised her for always being a honest and truthful child, but somewhere down the line that has all changed. Her father and I have explained the importance of telling the truth at ALL times, and stressed how detrimental lying will be for her if she carries that trait into her adolescence and/or adulthhod. Nevertheless, she will cry and yell insisting she is telling the truth, when we KNOW she is not! I plan on bringing this issue to her pediatrician, and discussing some options he may have. In the meantime, I would love to hear from any moms who have faced, or are facing, this same dilemma! Thank you!!!!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

well, my brother had this problem with his son. and despite all the extra effort in breaking the "habit" he just would not stop. so he sat his wife, and daughter downa dn devised a plan to "show" the son why not to lie.
they told him they were going to Kings Island for a weekend. by the time teh weekend came the son was so excited and had his things packed. morning of leaving he took his stuff to the car and dad said "whatcha doing" son said I am getting things in teh car so we can go. dad said don't bother I lied...how does it feel.
cruel yes but it worked he has not lied since.

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I don't know if I have any suggestions to help with breaking the habit, but I think this is a girl thing. I have a 12 year old daughter who at the age of 8 or 9 told a big fat whopper of a lie. We were pretty harsh with her punishment and it seemed to go away. In the last year or so she tells little white lies. I obviously know she is lying and I call her on it every time. She says she doesn't know why she does it. Or she is afraid of getting in trouble with us. If she owns up to it, we reprimand and let it go. If she doesn't we ground her. Hopefully, some day it will sink in, not to lie. Since she is older we have started talking to her about not being able to have a car or drive by herself anywhere or hang out with friends places when she is older, because she is already laying the groundwork for us not being able to trust her. She seems to be getting it. Keep pressing on! Hoepfully we will end up with honest girls.

Hi my name is C. and I also have an eight yr old that does the same thing. I just smuggly respond to her that it isn't good to lie and ignore her. I know it is harsh but when it comes to lying in our house it isn't tolerated. I can usually tell when she is lying though. She does the same thing. She insists on it being the truth and cries but she knows I see right through it when I insist she isn't telling the truth and I tell her that she doesn't need to talk to me about things if they aren't the truth. She makes things up about her friends just to have things to talk about and incorporates these lies with her friends saying things like "well, claire was at the doctors the same time I was getting her physical" or she will make up something completely off the wall that really seems more like fantasy. I really think it is just a stage they are going through to be more grown up and fit in with the adults. I hope this helps out a little. I am still working on my girl right now. She always told the truth when she was younger and would cry if anyone told her she was lying. I knew she was telling the truth at the time so it was no big deal but she uses that technique now when she lies so she thinks she can pass over a lie. She thinks she's slick but momma knows better than that. My husband even said he has a lie detector in his head and it beeps when a lie is told to him. He even does the "beep, beep, beep,......" Funny to watch but she stops and tells the truth when he does that, or she gets embarrassed and walks away. Hope this helps. Just know you aren't alone and maybe talking with a pediatrician is a good idea but it really is a stage they are going through I think.

I agree with the pay-off. She's getting it somewhere.

When I was 8, I lied all the time. I was deeply afraid of telling the truth because bad things were happening in my life that I didn't want my mom to know about. I'm not saying this is the case with your daughter at all but lying has a purpose - a reason for existing. Lying was a comfort zone for me because it was easy to do and I felt safe doing it.

It could be she's having problems in school or church. It could be she's mad at one of her friends and is lashing out by lying. It could be she has aspirations of being or doing something and can't so the frustration is allowing her to feel that lying is the way to relieve the frustration. Does she participate in sports (or want to)? Does she want to sing and doesn't feel like she can? Does her hair color bother her? Trust me, simple things that are normal to adults are mountains to kids.

Get to the root cause and the lying will stop. Taking privileges away will work for a while but kids are smart - she'll catch on soon enough and eventually that won't work.

well, my brother had this problem with his son. and despite all the extra effort in breaking the "habit" he just would not stop. so he sat his wife, and daughter downa dn devised a plan to "show" the son why not to lie.
they told him they were going to Kings Island for a weekend. by the time teh weekend came the son was so excited and had his things packed. morning of leaving he took his stuff to the car and dad said "whatcha doing" son said I am getting things in teh car so we can go. dad said don't bother I lied...how does it feel.
cruel yes but it worked he has not lied since.

I think the PP had a good idea with the jar but I don't think it should be money. I think it should be somethomg she favors...like lip gloss,or w/e she uses alot that she'd miss on a daily basis amd let her mow that the items stand for how much lying can cause you to lose things you love. Ask her to think about how she'd feel if you told her you guys were going somewhere fun and then for her to later find out you were only lying. Or how she'd feel if a boy she liked told her he liked her only to find out he was lying.If she put herself in your shoes she may understand how it feels to be decieved.And give strong punishment when she is caught lying, such as no phone or a couple of days of nothing more than homework,dinner,bath and bed for her after school.

I have a six and a half year old girl going through the same thing, except she doesnt insist as much. Not sure if its a girl thing, but she is my oldest - not sure if your daughter is the oldest, but it may be an older sibling thing.

Hi N.:
I know how frustrating this can be. My son is now 7 and thought he did not do it alot, he did occasionally lie when he knew that we would be disappointed in him. We assured him that no matter what there could NEVER be anythihg that he did that would make us not love him. That we always loved him no matter what. We also stressed the importnace of telling the truth....and though it may be hard to tell her this...tell her the reprocussions of her lying to you or other people. For example, let her know that the more that she lies to you, her friends, or anyone else the less she will be trusted. Eventually, she will have no friends because of it and as she gets older instead of being able to be with her friends and do things without you as supervision she will not be allowed to do so because you cannot trust that she will be doing as she said she would be. Be calm with her from the beginning and that if she tells you the truth to begin with that her punishment, (if you do punish) will not be as hard as if she were to lie to you. Or maybe because she tells you the truth, you let her off this time.

I hope this helps with you. We did this with our son and he never lies to us now. He now understands the importance in telling the truth.

I think there are some great ideas here. I just want to say one thing about an earlier post, please don't use "what if a boy told you he liked you and was lying", she is 8 for crying out loud. Help her be a free thinking woman without that does not need a boy/man to "like" her.

Best of luck!!

I have to tell you- maybe you should look into her choice of friends. My 9 yr. old girl comes home with some of the tallest tales. Recently she told me the "Susie" was going to the Hanna Montana concert, her dad was renting a limo and they paid $10,000.00 for the tickets, and no adults were allowed to go. Now we (as adults) know that this is nowhere near reality. Fortunately for me my daughter is very grounded and saw through this one. But it seems these girls are going to school dreaming up tall tales and sharing them with friends to see who is the coolest. I spoke with her teacher, who confirmed, that this is a rampant problem with girls this age. Maybe your daughter is in one of these little groups and feels the need to compete- and then it carries over to your home-life.

I think we need to show our daughters that it is perfect to be themselves. They are perfect! We need to teach them to love themselves and each other just as they are and not for any other reason. We also should provide a safe environment for them at home- so they know that there is no need to lie. We will love them no matter what- there are reprocutions for their actions, but your family will always love you.

Good luck!
P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TODAY!!!!

I had the same problem with my daughter at that age. I used what we called a Lie Jar.Every time she lied she had to pay something to the jar. Maybe 10 cents or a quarter,but no more than that. I just used a glass jar and I placed a label on it that said my daughters name on it lie jar for example (C.'s Lie Jar), then I put it where everyone that came into our home would be able to see it.When they seen it they always asked what it was and of course I told them. My daughter would be so embrassed that people knew what she was doing and of course by having to use her money to pay the jar she eventually stopped. I hope this helps. Good luck

N.,
I had the same problem with my daughter when she was in the same age range! What I did was give her an out - what I mean by that is I would say "you are not in trouble, I just want to know the truth, there will be no punishment" And really mean it! It is so tempting to punish once you hear the truth finally, but they have to know you value the truth over any kind of punishment. Then you can discuss the actual lie. I tried to do that part with as much calm as I could. It took about a year but finally I had a child who told me the good the bad and the ugly - even when I wasn't so sure I wanted to hear it. My daughter is now going on 20 and in her 2nd year at college. She often tells those "lying" stories to her brother who is 14 and tells him "Its so much easier to just tell the truth, Mom will stand by you". Makes me feel like I did something right there.
Good luck and remember: "This too shall pass"
C. B.

At younger ages like 3 to 5 years of age most children do not have a comprehension of lying and it truly is innocent. They tell you what they believe you want to hear because they want to please you which is very different than being deceptive.

Older children usually lie because they don't trust you with the truth. This does not mean it is your fault; it could be as simple as she doesn't trust you to not punish her for telling the truth.

You might try not believing anything she tells you. If she says the sky is blue, look out the window and confirm it. If she says her socks match lift her pant legs to check. If she says it is 4:00pm check your watch or phone to make sure. Let her know how it would feel to not believe anything she says. I had a foster daughter who lied a lot. Most of the time it was brought on because she was trying to manipulate me, her teacher, or her brother. She also lied because she knew what the consequences were for breaking the house rules and she didn't want to follow them rules but she didn't want to pay the consequences either. She didn't trust me to not punish her so she lied. Initially, she didn't but when she saw how compassionate I was towards her brother regarding his issues post truamatic stress disorder (different issues altogether) she started taking advantage. Initially, she would lie and say her brother did things. Eventually, he started standing up for himself when he learned I would not beat the daylights out of either of them. Apparently, he would take the heat from their birth father for his sister to protect her. After a while, he figured out that the worst thing that would happen to either of them is to go to bed early or a toy would be taken away for a week. I guess he figured she could handle that kind of punishment. He wasn't taking her consequences anymore. She started having to pay the consequences for her own actions and she was being punished for the first time in her life. Up until that point everyone thought she was a perfect angel. However, it was not the case at all. She did not like being held to the same standards as her brother so she started lying about everything. Her brother did a lot (I mean a LOT) of things wrong but he always owned up to his actions and never lied about his behaviors. She started off blaming him for her actions and eventually, he started denying the things she said he did. Him I trusted to tell the truth her, I did not. She HATED it. She would turn beet red with anger and frustration because I could not believe her whereas everyone else always believed her even when she lied. Once her brother started standing up for himself, I started finding out all kinds of things she was lying about. The more I caught her in her lies the angrier she got. All in all it was a habit that we broke in about 3-4 months but it took constant vigilence and I could not let her get a pay off for any lie no matter how exhausted I was of monitoring her every move.

Monitor everything your daughter says and do not allow her to have a pay off for lying. She is getting a pay off somewhere.

Good Luck. It is not an easy habit to break. I am glad that problem is behind me and don't envy you in having to deal with it. My daughter is only 5 and does not lie at all. My foster daughter was 8 when she started lying. Maybe it is a phase that some 8 year olds go through.

K. T

Here's an idea - it may be harsh but.

Explain that the reason lying is so bad is that now you don't know when she's really telling the truth. Now you may never believe anything she says. As an example tell her you are going to tell her one lie today - everything else will be the truth. All day she will wonder if this is the lie or the truth. The lie should be something to disappoint. Like are we going to the movies this weekend - yes. The next day when she's making plans you can say - sorry I lied about that.

She will be angry but maybe that may help to explain to her how it feels to be lied to.

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