5 Year Old Lying - Lockport,IL

Updated on November 27, 2008
A.T. asks from Lockport, IL
6 answers

Our beautiful, imaginative, caring 5 year old girl is having problems with lying. She has never been good at taking responsibility for her actions but now she just flat out lies. Saturday she took a ball from an open package at the store. We caught it and she told us she got it from home...even when my husband found the open package and pointed it out she still maintained she got the ball from home. (not possible--we don't have that kind at home or anywhere she's been) Today she tore up a picture and told me she didn't do it...and she took filthy clothes out of her dirty clothes basket and told me they were in her drawer so she could wear them again. These are the recent things there are others.
We've tried the "I know you want this to be the truth so that's why you are saying it" tactic; we've tried time outs; we've tried taking away privileges; we've tried the "you need to think about this" tactic. Nothing.
She is so imaginative and can spin some tales. The tall tales are fine but we need to rein in the lies to Mommy and Daddy. She knows what is an exaggeration and funny story and what is a lie...how do we get her to fess up to her own wrongdoings?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the great advice. Since our daughter likes stories rather than Pinocchio (those boys with tails freak me out) we tried one called Amelia (?) and the teensy weensie lie. It has really helped. We also really praised her for telling the truth recently--she tossed a plastic hot dog over the banister and swore the cat did it. After I asked her "are you sure it wasn't you? she said yes and we really praised her for being honest even though she could get in trouble for doing it. Thanks for reminding me lying is a control issue--that has helped me put it all in perspective.

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answers from Chicago on

Kids often lie because they think the punishment will be worse if the truth is told. I have always made it clear to my son that lying is wrong, the truth will always come out one way or another, and the punishment for lying will always be worse than the punishment for doing something wrong and telling me the truth about it. My son tried the lying thing a few times (still does occasionally) and has realized that Mom was very serious about the punishment being worse for lying. Not that he gets away unpunished for telling the truth but the punishment is times two for lying.

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answers from Chicago on

Ahhhhhhhhh, I remember that age with my son and know it is coming soon enough with my daughter!!!

What we did was tell my son that anytime he lied a purple spot will show up on his tongue. So if we suspected he was lying we would tell him to stick out his tongue. If he was telling the truth the whole tongue would come out and he would wiggle it at us. If he was lying he would stick it out fast as he could and that was it or he would barely stick it out. After the second or third time of being "punished" he would be honest with us. We never punished honesty though and he would only have to help clean, fix, do whatever the problem was... make it right basically!

The best was when my son lied and then ran to the bathroom to see the spot and came out bawling cuz he did... he saw a shadow! I never told him the truth about it.

Another alternative on this one is using glasses with it that are made just for Mommy and Daddy to see the special spot with. This way when she gets past this phase you can throw them out and not be expected to check the tongue anymore. It will also explain why her friends do not get spots on their tongues!

Worked for us!
Good luck with your little creative tall tale teller! Maybe she will be the next big author making millions! lol Blessings to you and yours!



answers from Chicago on

hi A.,

Our 5 yr old has also been prone to lies recently and can be very creative and imaginative about it.

I told her about pinnocio, and that each time she told a lie her nose grew a little more and a little more and then tried to parallel that with how each time you tell a lie, you have to tell another lie to cover it up and so little lies grow and grow into big lies just like your nose!

When she tells a 'tall tale' I just nod my head and say 'hmm' I think your nose just grew a bit more and she runs to the mirror to check and then tells the truth!

This might seem cruel, but to an imaginative child such as our daughter, it works for us.

On more serious offenses like stealing (which my son was terrible about also at that age) I would drag him directly into the store and ask for the manager and then tell my son to give the item back and apologize - luckily I almost always encountered understanding store managers but that pretty much nipped it with stealing from stores. The managers would alway say 'well I should call the police, but since you brought it back I won't for this time - but I better never catch you doing that again!' These days I suppose you should be prepared to pay for the item if they insist, but then have her do chores to earn the money for it.

It is a control issue - lying helps them feel in control. The more appropriate things you allow them to have control over, the easier this stage can be in my experience.

Sorry to be lengthy, but I also liked Nicole's approach about telling her a lie in order to see how it feels (we also did this with our son at this age). - Look at her directly and with a straight face and say (oh we just lied to you) don't allow her to think it is funny - ask her how is she feeling right now - disappointed, angry, confused? That is how it feels to others when you lie and ask how does she like it.

good luck!




answers from Chicago on

My rule of thumb for the whole lying situation is: if I see them actually do something, especially if they don't realize I've seen them, I always call them on it. I have the proof I saw it with my own eyes. I say, You did this and it isn't okay and just deal with the issue that is at hand. The sticky part comes when I ask her/him and don't have proof and when she/he answers i believe she is lying. I only ask once and then believe what she says and we move on. Or let's say I ask did you make this mess and she/he says no, then I still just say okay, but this is a big mess and I need help cleaning it up. When they answer and we continue to ask and not believe them we sort of teach them to lie and they feel like we don't trust them. I believe at this age they are testing to see what they can get a away with, how they can outsmart you, they don't want to get in trouble a ton of reasons, and if handled correctly they won't continue to lie, but if you don't trust them and are always second guessing their answers then they will continue to lie. As they get older they do go through this again. The reason for the lying at that time is because they want to avoid consequences and disappointing us. Again if you don't have proof you have to believe what they say no matter how sure you think you are that they are lying. Most of the time my kids will come to me later and tell me the truth because they feel guilty for lying to me and I trusted their answer.



answers from Chicago on

I actually made my son go back with me to the store once and return something he took. I wasn't sure if that was the right thing to do but it seemed to work in his case.



answers from Chicago on

My stepdaughter has been lying for some time now. We finally figured out she lies because she doesn't think there is any other way to get what she wants. Your daughter wanted the ball and didn't know how else to get it so she lied. She wanted to wear the clothes and didn't see any other way. She didn't want to get in trouble. We've gone through similar scenerios including telling "tall tales" like a fox in our yard killed a bear.

We've used a combination of letting her know how to get what she wants without lying (if you want the toy, you have to earn the money and this is how) and making sure she is NOT successful when she lies even once. That means catching all the lies and punishing for the lie.

We do not punish if she tells the truth, we make her fix the problem. So if she is the one who broke the vase, we thank her for telling the truth. Then we ask her how she can take responsibility. We try not to make it sound like "punishment" because that brings on the lying. We make it sound like she's "grown up." And she'll sweep up the mess or save her allowance for a new vase. We hope that teaches her that everyone makes mistakes and you need to fix them if you've made them.

Don't know how that might work with a 5-year old but we needed to see WHY our DD was lying and fix that.

Once we lied to her to see how she liked it. We told her she could have ice cream. Then we waited until after dinner and said "no, we were lying you can't have ice cream." After she was disappointed we said "see how lying feels?" We let her stew a bit before giving her ice cream. We remind her of that when she lies.

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