4 Year Old Lying

Updated on August 13, 2007
A.L. asks from Benton, AR
7 answers

I have a four year old boy that is coming up with amazingly detailed lies to get his way. He can look you straight in the eye without any deviation or side glancing. This week he crossed the street after lying to me about his Dad needing help in the yard, and it turned out that Dad was not even home! He also kicked his babysitter and spit on his brother. We've tried time-out, grounding, and spankings. Nothing scares him and he doesn't care! Please help.

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answers from Fayetteville on

I have a 4 year old that enjoys lying as well. He's quite good at it, too! I've just recently discovered what will work for him. When he's telling me something that sounds a little fishy, I'll pry a little more. I'll ask him, "Blayne, is that the truth? Is that REALLY what happened? You know, I LOVE it when you tell me stories, but I really need to know that it's a story so that I can enjoy it. Can you please tell me if this is the TRUTH or a STORY?" And he usually insists that it's the truth the first time. I'll let him know that he won't get in trouble for lying to me IF he tells me that he's telling a story, but I find out that what he's telling me is NOT the truth, then there will be consequences (always leave them unnamed, because a 4 year-old's imagination works a lot better than yours and they can come up with worse punishment than what you do. Besides, it might be worth time-out for him to go across the street by himself). For me, after a week or two of doing this, he started volunteering what was a story and what was the truth. Of course, after he tells you that this big long elaborate story was not the truth, you HAVE to reward him. Don't punish him for telling you that he's lied because that will encourage him to lie to you longer next time. Each time that you reward him for telling the truth, he'll be more likely to tell the truth earlier the next time. Before too long, he'll come up to you and say, "I wish Daddy were home so I could help him in the yard." instead of "Daddy needs my help in the yard today."

As far as the babysitter goes, try getting an older one that can recognize the escalation patterns of children. Most teenagers look at children as equals and that's why they play together so well. If a college student babysits for you, she'll be more likely to know what to do when your child STARTS to get angry instead of waiting for him to kick her.

And spitting is normal at this age. The best thing I did was teach Blayne about germs. Sounds odd, I know. However, when he realized just how many germs were in the mouth, the importance of covering your mouth when you sneeze and cough, and how spitting was rude and spread germs that could make others sick, he stopped spitting. I also taught him other ways to express his anger. I told him that it's okay to tell someone that they are making you mad and you want them to share their toy. It's also okay to put yourself in timeout until you figure out a way to get your way. He doesn't do that too often, but it does help when he thinks about what he's doing before he acts.



answers from Lafayette on

Hello A.,
I have two boys, ages 14 and 3. They both try to get away with things. Fortunately, they are not good liars! As soon as they start to tell the lie, they smile. i don't think they even notice they are doing it because when I bring it to their attention, they deny deny deny! Anyhow, the only thing that works with them, mostly my 14 year old, it so take stuff that they love and enjoy away for a week. If they do it agoin during that week, they get another week. Anyhow, hope this helps and good luck!
D. D.



answers from Fayetteville on

Our three year old has been doing this too. We have been trying to catch him telling truths and reward this behavior. Also, when we are positive it is a lie (ie. we saw what happened or heard or have facts to back it up) we give an opportunity to tell the truth with no punishment as the reward for telling the truth. Once we got this going, we found that he is much more likely to tell the truth and we started issuing punishment again for lies. Now he understands that truth results in good/positive consequences and lies result in bad/negative ones.
I think he was trying to find those boundaries, but we weren't framing it in a way he understood. Now we have so much less (not to say none) lying in our house. He has also started telling us this is a lie... and this is what really happened. So for now we are just trying to make sure we have the facts when we discuss. Hope this helps!



answers from Lafayette on

Hi A.,
Wow, sounds tough. I have a 11 month old, so I really don't have any good advice for you. I know the most important thing is staying consistent and following through on your threats of punshment, if you don't do that, he will always know he can get away with stuff.
I saw that you said you needed help... I do work during the day (from home), but if you need help in the evenings I would be happy to help you out every now and then... Just let me know. I am not from Lafayette, so I am trying to meet new people.



answers from Baton Rouge on

take everything away from him that he likes to play with and see if that helps anything. if not let me know of what kind of time out you do.



answers from Little Rock on

You can take all of his toys out of his room. When he starts telling the truth, he can earn back one or two toys at a time. Everytime he lies, whatever toys he's earned back are taken away again and the whole process starts all over. Lecturing doesn't work, although I think it is important for you and your husband to explain to him why telling the truth is so important and why lying is so bad. Also, be sure to say 'thank you' when he does tell the truth. Plus, you can also model truth-telling for him. Make it very concrete - make him a pbj sandwich, but tell him it's only pb. Then correct yourself and say that wasn't true - it's actually a pbj sandwich. That will help him grasp the difference between a lie and the truth and a lie and telling a story. Good luck!



answers from New Orleans on

wow, you have your hands full, you need super nanny

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