5 Year Old Lying, Is It a Faze?

Updated on August 31, 2011
E.M. asks from Mesa, AZ
7 answers

My husband seems to think its not a big deal but I do. Yesterday I found out my son was lying to his after school program people saying he doesn't do homework at school he only does it at home. He told me he just wanted to draw a picture instead. At home last night he told me the teacher told him a story about butts and poop. Which I know isn't true either. I'm thinking this is a faze but I do want to talk to him about it so he can understand. Any words of advice? I tell him he needs to tell the truth but he doesn't know what truth means and he doesn't know what lying is either.

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answers from Lynchburg on

Hi Ejessie-

There is a book, by William Bennett called "The Book of Virtues". It contains myriad stories that 'speak' to all kinds of issues.

My dad (an 'arch' conservative) gave me a copy YEARS ago when kiddos were young...(I am a more 'liberal' conservative...LOL). It was really nice to read stories at bedtime that 'dealt' with a particular issue or concern. As I recollect, it had an index...so was very useful.

My father is dead...I miss him daily. BUT he would be proud of his grankids 'virtues' I am sure!

Best Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think it's a phase. He's only 5. Gently guide him about telling the truth.


answers from Rochester on

It isn't a phase, it's a correctable flaw. You need to teach him about truth and dishonesty. In my opinion, the best way to do this is with the Bible. If you aren't going to use it, then find a way to explain it to him. Illustrate truth vs. a lie to him...for example, "the grass is purple" is a lie. "The grass is green" is the truth. If something didn't happen but you say it did, it's a lie. Again, if you don't use a moral approach, how can you explain WHY lying is wrong? I don't know, and that's why I suggest using the Bible.



answers from Portland on

Read this enlightening article on why kids lie – I think it will help you gain some insight with your son. Though distressing for parents, lying is a sign of developing understanding about how social ilnteraction works. http://nymag.com/news/features/43893/

Your son's homework lie sounds pretty typical, in that he's trying to limit some of the scheduling in his life and open up some space for the natural things he longs to do. (And it is called "home"work, after all, so he may even logically assume that's where it should be done.) Play, including drawing, is still the primary platform for learning and self-expression for a 5 or 6yo. Most homework is not – especially in the younger years, it's busywork.

Homework for early elementary kids has never been shown to be effective at helping them learn, and in some cases turns them off and turns school/academics into pure drudgery. Then parents seek desperately for ways to "motivate" their kids. Motivation can't be manufactured for work that is meaningless or oppressive – schoolwork must have at least some element of discovery, accomplishment, and relevancy if kids are to remain interested in learning.

This is a shift from your original question, but it's important: I keep hearing from parents around the country that their young kids are being loaded down with homework. This is a terrible strategy for schools to employ, and I hope parents will educate themselves on this and advocate for their kids. Educator Alfie Kohn is a good starting point: www.alfiekohn.org/

As for the other lie, it may or may not be. There is a rather catchy book called Everybody Poops which some intrepid teacher might conceivably have used to capture the kids' attention. It is cute and educational, and has been used by many toilet-training parents who have a child who's afraid to poop on the potty. So I'd ask the teacher about that one before discounting your son entirely.

Keep being truthful around your son, and he will sort out what's true and why it's important. You could give him a quick lie occasionally when he asks you a question, and then point out that it's a lie, why it's distressing or misleading, and what the consequences would be to you if you actually tried to pass it off as the truth.



answers from Dallas on

Our son has been doing this a bit too. He is also 5. And lately when we catch him he tries to tell us that he's "Just joking". We have explained the difference between the truth and a joke. Jokes are not mean spirited. And we have relied on good ole Aesop and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" to drive the point home. He also gets punished for lying. We also model telling the truth. A few weeks ago I took them to McDonald's, my hubby loathes the place. When I told my son that Daddy would not be happy with my choice for lunch. He told me we'd just keep it a secret. I explained that we don't keep secrets or tell lies about things in our house. "Daddy wouldn't like that we went there, he'd be mad and hurt about it if we lied on top of it all. We tell the truth in this family, even if it may upset someone". It seems to be getting through we haven't heard a fib in a while.



answers from Philadelphia on

Tell him what the truth means and what lying is. Sometimes,they say things to get attention. Tell him it is not nice to lie. He is going through a phase and he will soon be off to do something else that is annoying that he should not be doing. I have a son who is a year younger but goes through phases himself. It is up to you as a parent and a mom to let him know the differences between the truth and lying and that there will be consequences for not being honest. Your husband also needs to take it more seriously. Get him involved also especially if a lie is involved and then he may think it is more serious then it is now.



answers from Chicago on

My son came home from school last year (he was just in kindergarden) and said he got sent to the office. When I asked him why, he said he had pushed someone. I was in shock and started scolding him when he quickly started laughing and said he was just kidding. So, I decided it was time to read my kids "The boy who cried wolf" and let them know that I am not fond of people who lie and that if someone lies to me, I would never be able to trust what they say.

I also told both of them that if they lie because they know they will get into trouble, they will get into a lot more trouble for lying about it. So far, it's worked - I have not caught either of them lying.

Now, my sister says that will come and bite me right in the dupa when they figure out the truth about Santa, leprechans, the Elf on the shelf and the tooth fairy. But, I figured I would cross that bridge when I get there.

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