9 answers

Six Year Old Tells Lies

Please help. My six year old has started lying. He will look us right in the eye and lie to us. The first time this happened I started crying. This stopped him for awhile, but he has started in again. He's a good kid, and I consider him one of my best-friends. I think that his father and I are at a loss because we feel so hurt. Do any of you have any suggestions? How can we teach him that lying hurts and disables trust?

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Hi L.,
Yes, the lying is very common. Please don't take it personal. Kids try everything they see. My daughter lied at that age and I was so worried she would grow to be a dishonest person. She is now an adult and is a wonderful hard working intellegent girl. The lies would make me so angry at times, but now I am aware she was just looking for some attention. It is frustrating, but try not to let it get to you.

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I'm a grandmother and can tell you that lying at this age is common. My granddaughter who is 6 also lies. This started last summer and seems to be getting worse. And....her mother makes lying a big deal doing some of what the other mother suggested. I see the increase in lying as the result of my daughter punishing her instead of teaching her.

It is important to teach children the difference between a lie and the truth. That is part of what is going on at this age. When they tell us a lie they are telling us what they want to be true. sometimes they will know it's not the truth but often it feels true to them. This age is also playing make believe and pretend. They growl like a lion and say, "I'm a lion." They know that they're not a lion but it's fun to pretend. My granddaughter will still sometimes say, "I am too a lion." when I laugh and say, "you're not a lion." Pretending is also a way to learn about the world and their role in it.
I don't look at that as a lie but as a fun way to use her imagination.

She has also told me that her aunt now lives across the street. I knew that not to be true and so I said, "I wish she did live across the street. That would be so fun." She continued to say that she lived across the street and I just let her talk. I had told her I knew the truth and indirectly told her fantasy is fun.

That is an example of an obviously harmless "lie."
And if your son is pretending and acting like it's the truth I recommend either going along with it depending on what the pretense is or to smile or laugh and say something like "isn't it fun to pretend?"

If he's lying when you ask him if he broke a toy then I'd handle it somewhat differently but still in a light hearted manner. For example, if you know that he broke the toy, don't ask him if he did. That sets him up to lie and the goal is to show him it's not necessary or beneficial to lie. Say, "I know you broke this toy and so I'm going to have you and name the consequence if there is to be one. If he insists that he didn't it's because he's wishing that he didn't and in his undeveloped mind hopes that somehow by saying he didn't it didn't happen. or something like that.

Babies are born with very underdeveloped minds which develop over the course of years. Children cannot comprehend the same range of information that adults do. And it is our job to teach them but we need to do it with an understanding of the mind's development.

We learn best in a positive atmosphere. Giving praise and positive direction works best for learning. We all shrivel under negative criticism.

I'm not saying ignore the lies. I'm saying put them in the perspective of the developmental picture. Teach what is true and what is not true in a loving way. Understand that lying is a part of learning and not a serious behavior at this age.

As to teaching him that lying hurts and disables trust he is too young to learn that lesson. It's for later. Trust is a very complex concept. Right now he's learning the difference between fantasy and real life.

4 moms found this helpful

My young children did the same thing. I am not sure if they are lieing or living in a different reality! I would not take it personal but I would instill the difference between reality and fantasy. I am not sure if a 6 year old has the ability to discerne between reality and fantasy..........Just keep instilling good values and I am sure all will be good!

my step-son started lying at 4 and one thing we noticed was the lies were things he didn't want us disapproving of. for example, if he broke something he'd blame it on his younger brother or my son. when we found out it was him, he'd say he didn't want us to hate him. (WHAT? who knows how his mishaps are handled at his other home!) his big thing was that he didn't want "his image" tainted by things he would think we thought were wrong. one thing you can reassure your son with is that you won't value him or love him any less if he does something wrong. make sure the punishment fits the crime. valuing him with praise for being smart, caring of others, etc. will help him understand you know he's a good kid. also, making sure you and your husband are acknowleging your own mistakes in front of him will teach him it's okay to admit when you're not perfect.

also, kids are very aware of "little white lies" we tell people so make sure he isn't witnessing you fibbing to another adult. he might not see the difference in his lying. my step-son's mom lies about everything, even stupid stuff. my husband and i really had to keep our mouths in check just to make sure he didn't pick it up when he was with us too. good luck!

(btw, he's over 6 now and the lying is VERY infrequent now!!)

Hi L.,
Yes, the lying is very common. Please don't take it personal. Kids try everything they see. My daughter lied at that age and I was so worried she would grow to be a dishonest person. She is now an adult and is a wonderful hard working intellegent girl. The lies would make me so angry at times, but now I am aware she was just looking for some attention. It is frustrating, but try not to let it get to you.

Hello L., i totaly agree 100% with marda i to have a 6yr daughter as i have a 3 1/2 daughter. their comprehension just is not ready to determine a lie.its all about make believe its up to us to teach but it is not good to keep saying are you lying to me it just confuses them. its not good to put yourself in where you are saying i don't trust you. its kind of like pick your battles. in the same time you dont want to shut off that comunication now at this age.where they feel scared to open up to you.I am not saying ignore it but just do it with the understanding of their age. they dont think like us but we make them feel like they should which is not right by us.good luck.

i myself have experienced the lying from a young one. i also go to school for a degree and i am a stepmom. my husbands boy was around that age, possibly a year older. he started lying and i made him look me in the eye and he still lied. sometimes i didn't know if he lied to me or not but since he had lied to me before he had lost my trust, so i didn't believe him, and told him, i don't believe you, how do i know you are not lying to me since you have done it before. i made sure i followed through on every part of the situation. constantly checking on him and what he was doing. i threw in a couple of trick questions that i could think of to see if he would be consistant with his story. i could only suggest that you and his father be consistant with the whole fact and sometimes it is hard to tell. good luck

Well first of all we can't be there best friend, we have to be their parent and whatever u do it maybe hard at first but let him know that telling the truth will be rewarded by a praise of something u decided. But I know that lying gets to bigger lies as they grow up. I am a pre-school teacher and I have about 11 to 13 kids in my class at one time. Ages range from 3 to 5. And they love to tell on each other. And some lie to just get attention. I believe in time out and once they have done thier time I let them know they have to tell me the truth. And believe me they want to. The time out isn't a good thing when there's something they would rather be doing.
It works if you keep doing it. And if it doesn't work then just keep telling him that lies creat a big problem which leads to bigger punishment. Like takin his favorite toy or game and/or Programs he loves to watch. He needs to believe that lies hurt others and himself.

i'm so afraid of this happening with my children, but everyone goes thru it. let him know how bad it hurts when he lies. at one point sometime when you know he's telling a lie then eventually cracks and tells the truth, thank him and praise him for telling the truth. that it is good to be honest and very very bad to lie.

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