18 answers

Help for a Lying 10 Year Old.....

My son has had an ongoing issue with lying. It started several years ago and we have exhausted ourselves with every solution thrown our way. He lies over everything. At first it was "storytelling", about other children misbehaving, or grandiose events that he had taken a part of. Now it is everything, and it has gotten to the point that I cannot believe anything that he tells me. He will continue with the lie when he is obviously busted, until I over and over let him know I am aware he is lying. The lies range from homework, completing chores, the whole way to "did you drink the rest of the juice?"- no mom, wasn't me (sporting a juice mustache). When he gets caught in a lie, I make him aware that he is being punished for lying not just the action. We have taken away video games, TV, music, free time.....I have even made him wear a scarlet "L" to Sunday school, hoping that humility would help. Anyone have any suggestions? Please Help Me!!!

What can I do next?

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Stop believing everything he says. Even when you know he's telling the truth. Make him prove everything. But first, sit him down and tell him that since he lies about everything that you can no longer trust him and that he will have to prove the truth of everything to you. And since you can't trust him, you will be calling his friends parents to find out if he got there, and what is going on over there. Using the love and logic approach, the logical consequence for such extensive lying is no trust for him at all. Did he do his homework? Make him show you it and he has to have a note from his teachers telling what the homework is (hopefully the teachers will work with you on this). He might be a little old for this, but make a chart where he gets to earn back priveleges and trust for each time he tells the truth. If he lies, he loses points on the chart big time. It might be a good way for him to learn that even one lie (in real life) cost trust way more than telling the truth one time helps to build it back. Good luck to you!

C.,

We had/have the same thing. He doesn't do it as much anymore, but sometimes.....I found that when I just tuned him out when he started with 'grandiose' storytelling and treated him as if I already knew the answer to the question (homework) it helped. The more I emphasized it the more he did it, the less I did, the less he did. It will affect them socially, too. Friends just 'disappear' if they don't like behaviors I've noticed. Hang in there!

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One suggestion I remember (from child development courses) is to not give him a chance to lie, as much as possible. So, if you can see he's got a juice mustache, dont ask if he's the one who finished the juice. State "oh, you drank the last of the juice," and then, if there's something wrong with that (like you were saving it for breakfast) tell him why you are unhappy about it. If there's nothing wrong with it, leave it at that. (If he denies it, tell him "I know you did" and then the conversation is over). Instead of asking if his homework is done, tell him it's time to do homework. If he says he has none, check his backpack. In fact, I check all my kids backpacks because they tend to forget to give me notes and stuff (my oldest is 11 and in 5th grade. I'll probably keep doing it even when they're in high school, just so they know they can't slip anything past me). And maybe talk to his teacher, if homework doesn't come back he can spend the first half of recess doing it at school - that's what our school does.

Also, let him know that you're more angry about the lying that the misdeed. For example, if he drank the last of the juice, and denies it, tell him that he wouldn't have been in trouble for the juice but he is now for lying. A lot of kids lie to get out of trouble or to make themselves feel or seem more important. So when he is honest and confesses, praise him (tell him "Thank you for telling the truth, I really appreciate that") then implement a mor mild consequence for the behavior because he told you the truth. And make sure you tell him how spcial and wonderful he is, at times when he isn't telling a story or when you see him doing something good.

1 mom found this helpful

C.,

Have you thought about rewarding your son for telling the trueth? We have a rule in our family, as long as you tell the trueth you will not be punished. This has worked very well for me. My daughter 15, and son 5, tell the trueth sometimes when I think gosh I wish I wouldn't have to deal with this one. Just a thought, give it a try what have you got to lose?

1 mom found this helpful

First off, lying is triggered by something underlying. No pun intended.

Sometimes it's just an intensely active imagination, sometimes it's the child's way of controlling (or trying to) his environment, and sometimes it's due to something more involved.

You know your child, and you probably know all the reasons he comes up with lies. Sometimes, though, because we are so close to our children, we can't see the forest for the trees (or the trees in the forest, in some cases).

My guess is your son is continuing the lying for attention and recognition. And he gets it. Some children seem to thrive on negative/reactive attention more than positive/proactive attention, no matter what you do, but this may be an angle to at least look through.

If it's that prolific, I personally would not use any tactic that brings more attention to it, and if anything, ignore it. If he realizes that your respect for him is there because he's a person, not because he's a good boy, he will likely drop the habit on his own. Ignore it, and maybe let him know that if he's going to lie, you don't wish to talk with him at that time. Also, let him know that since he lies, you don't know when he is telling the truth, so he has to rebuild your trust in by deciding on his own that he wants you to be able to believe him, and therefore (he) decide when he isn't going to lie anymore.

We have first hand experience with this in a child of similar age (relative in our care). Message me privately if you'd like to talk about it.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear C.,
You might try this. Stop asking for the truth when you already know the answer. Instead, state something as a fact, i.e. you drank the last of the juice and put the empty carton back in the refrigerator. Or, you haven't finished all of your homework. Then it is up to him to prove he did. There may be some pathology here as one person suggested. I understand your concern and applaud your efforts to deal with this problem. Hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful

I had a similar situation, just not that severe and the way I resolved it was that I started telling very obvious lies to him. He'd ask a question and I would lie to him. Is it rainning mom? It would be but I'd say no, it's beautiful and sunny. Would you buy something for me from the store?
Sure but I wouldn't. I became very unreliable in his eyes and then I told him I was treating him the way he treated me and if he wanted me to change towards him, he would have to change himself first. It was a few days later that he came to me and told me he wouldn't lie to me anymore. He had to prove himself to me but he did it. Overall took about 2 months. Good Luck, It's a tough one.

1 mom found this helpful

I haven't tried it, and it may be harder to do than it's worth, but my sis-in-law told her kids that if they lie she never knows what to believe. Once she knows they've been lying, she won't believe anything they say the rest of the day.

Example after kid has lied that day:
"Want some cookies for a snack?"
"Sure Mom"
"Oh, I don't believe you. I'll just eat them myself then"

Now maybe she would be selective about what she believed, and when they figure it out and lie to be believed, I'm sure she just went with what she figured she should... but it teaches the lesson that people never know when to trust someone that has not proven themselves trustworthy.

Good luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful

I heard an interesting concept once in a parenting class, that kids lie at a younger age to avoid trouble, but if they lie when they are older it is often more of a reflection of the relationship. That is not to say that somehow you are lacking as a mom , but it might be worth looking over how you guys communicate, and how much he trusts you. Is he trying to really pull away and therefore putting up a barrier, etc. Of course, that is a theory that doesn't necessarily cover every situation, either. Merely one thing to consider. You also mentioned he has been doing it for years. It seems he must be getting SOME kind of pay-off for it, or perhaps he did at some point and now it's just a habit. I would be willing to bet he doesn't feel very good about this deep down inside, though. I hope you can find a way to have a really open conversation with him about it, and see if he can give you his take on why he is doing this. Probably best to try this when he hasn't just told a lie, but a time when things are peaceful and you just casually invite him to talk. I hope you can find out what is really at the heart of this.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello darling! I am SO SORRY, how freaking frustrating! But funny too. You have a bright kid who knows the power of keeping himself out of trouble. It takes, as you know, a good deal of intelligence to do it. Small comfort I'm sure.

I'd check out some books on pathological lying. Get a background on the why's, markers and concerns you should have. Crazy though it may sound, you might try a psychiatrist. I had to take my daughter to one for ADHD diagnosis, and nothing was harder for me than to overcome the idea that I had to go to one. Those are for CRAZY PEOPLE! I was raised in the Mid-West, and only loony people did that! Turns out, I got to take my kids problem to someone who had better tools to deal with it than I did.

Finding a child psychiatrist takes awhile in some parts. Took me 3 months. Check with your insurance to see what you're covered for. Get a little background on what you are addressing, and we'll see if we can't turn this little issue into a million-dollar best selling author. :D Hang in there babe!

Scarlet "L," you are a riot Hester. :D

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