7 Year Old Lying

Updated on December 07, 2012
R.M. asks from Evanston, IL
9 answers

My 7 year old daughter is lying a lot and it is breaking my heart. She is the type of person who looks for the "right" answer rather than the honest one. She lies about the littlest things (little in my mind, obviously not little in her mind) and it is always to avoid "getting in trouble." She tells me that this is why she lies. Well you would think that I beat this child with the way she fears "getting in trouble." My kids don't really even GET in trouble. We DO let them know when they disappoint us, but they are generally really well behaved and their "trouble" usually means a time out or going to their room for a very short period of time etc. I have been trying to work on it with her and thought we were making progress. I tell them CONSTANTLY that they can come to me with anything and I regularly sit down with each of them individually just to "talk" about anything they want or need to talk about. I know 95% of the time when she is lying about something so when a lie comes out of her mouth, I tell her, "Ok, you have one chance to rethink what you just said and make sure you are being honest." Then she would confess and I would talk to her about how much better it feels inside to tell the truth blah blah blah. I even nullified any time-out or consequence for whatever she was lying about JUST to get her to get in the habit of telling the truth. This happens at least once a day. Sometimes she just tells random detailed stories about people at school that didn't even happen. Why?? I have no idea. Then, last night, she lied and I knew it because she was trying to find a round-about way of confessing it to me and got caught. She looked at one of the papers in the advent calendar (we do activities instead of a candy) and I had told all 3 kids that if they looked at them early then they wouldn't get to do the activity. So even though she had already busted herself by making it known that she knew the activity on "day 16," she would not admit that she had looked at it. Then she tried to make something up out of thin air that I had told her she could look at just one. I looked at her and told her to tell me the truth and she kept lying over and over so I got mad and yelled "Just tell me and be honest!!!" I know I shouldn't have yelled but I was so frustrated. She looked me right in the eye and said "I'm not lying I promise!" Finally after I yelled again (yes I know, not a good approach) she confessed that she looked at it. I walked away so I could calm down and then I came back into her room and she was crying, I was crying too because I was very hurt and I told her that. I explained to her how much it hurts me and again went over the fact that being honest will ALWAYS get you in way less trouble than lying. I told her we were going to wipe the slate clean and start new and that we were going to work on her honesty together but I really feel like this is going to continue because we have been fighting this battle for about a year now. It kills me that she can look me in the eye and promise me she is not lying when she totally is. I have major trust issues from my mom who is an alcoholic so this hits me really hard.

ETA - Victoria, I have struggled with this because I feel like, if I give her a consequence for lying, won't she just work harder to cover her lie and never confess the truth??

What can I do next?

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answers from San Francisco on

I agree with Nicole P. You have to actually have a consequence for lying, not just letting her know she's disappointed you.

I agree that she should lose the activity for that day of the Advent calendar and also that she should spend the weekend in her room for lying. If you keep brushing it under the rug, she's going to keep doing it and it's going to get worse.

Kids need and want solid boundaries. I don't think you're providing that.

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answers from San Francisco on

"My kids don't really even GET in trouble. We DO let them know when they disappoint us, but they are generally really well behaved and their "trouble" usually means a time out or going to their room for a very short period of time etc."

That's your problem. I think she's in dire need of a serious punishment for lying. If I had been there for the Advent calender lying fiasco I would have said, "Because you opened the calendar early after I expressly told you not to you will lose the item inside. And because you LIED about it you are GROUNDED."

Then take away all her favorite things. Make her STAY in her room except for meals for a couple of days. Lying is absolutely 100% NOT something I will tolerate at all. I would put her on bread and water until she's begging to tell the truth.

My kid knows the story of "the boy who cried wolf" backwards and forwards and when something gets broken or spilled or goes wrong in the house... she now no longer blames the cat or makes up stories. I punish lying far more severely than I would punish any small infraction of house rules because it's extremely important to me that she is honest. I told her that if she lies to me about something as stupid as who spilled the milk... how can I trust her when she tells me something important?

I proved to her how horrible it is to not be trusted when she had done something she was proud of a day after she lied to me big time. She came to me and announced that she had drawn a picture that was the most awesome picture in the whole world. She presented it to me and I told her I didn't believe she drew it.

She looked at me like I was nuts. I told her that since she lied to me about what her teacher told her to do yesterday (because she didn't want to do the work) and I believed her and then the teacher contacted me to ask why she hadn't completed her work, that I was having a very hard time believing her now. She tried to prove that she drew the picture but I was adamant that I still wasn't sure that she had actually done it until she broke down into tears and stomped her little foot and said she was "very very angry" with me.

I got down to her level, made eye contact and explained that what she was experiencing was a lack of trust. I told her TRUST was very important in a family. I want to TRUST that what she tells me is true but it's hard to TRUST someone who LIES. Liars can not be trusted!

So far as I know, she hasn't blatantly lied to my face ever again. Until your daughter can experience what it's like to lose your trust, she won't know how bad it is to lie. Right now all she knows is that it winds you up like a top and makes you angry. As of right now, SHE doesn't suffer from her lies, YOU do.

Make HER suffer for them and she'll stop.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Kids lie because they don't want to get in trouble, and they don't want to disappoint their parents.
It doesn't mean they are bad, or that they are going to grow up and be dishonest people. It's just a normal part of childhood.
Stop making such a big deal out of it, otherwise it could backfire and she may end up using as a way to get your attention.
And crying over it shows her how just powerful lying can be (wow, I can make my M. cry!) Is that REALLY the example you want to set?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

i would lie to if coming clean after lying meant no punnishment?

did i understand that right. if she does something wrong and gets caught without lying there is a time out
if she lies and confesses her lie=no time out??

honestly i've caught emmy who is 6 in one or two lies, and done the same thing...are you sure you dont want to rethink that statement because lying is bad and she always does but she's not done anything bad enough to actually lie yet

Also if Emmy tells and embelished tale from school or about something that isnt her protecting herself i chalk it up to being a kid and perceiving things differently at times, or jus having fun and making it a tall tale. i did that when i was little too/. if she was lying to avoid getting in trouble thats when she;d be in big trouble

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answers from Minneapolis on

Does she get in trouble for the lying? If I understand this right, if she does something naughty and tells you the truth she doesn't get in trouble - Right? But does she get in trouble when she lies? Obviously you talk to her about it all the time, which is good, but is there a consequence for lying? Maybe make up a separate "chart" just for lying (I know you said something about having an activity chart). Every day she goes without lying she builds up points for getting something. OR every day that she tells a lie she loses something on the activity chart. She might not be able to do fun activities for a while but she'll eventually get the idea

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answers from Dover on

I have always told my kids that lying will get them in more trouble than any thing they could do wrong would. Sometimes, being honest will get you a talking to but lying will get you punished for sure. For example, you break curfew...sure you might be in trouble or you might just get a warning...you lie to me as to why and you definately have consequences.

Start showing her that you mean business and execute consequences when you know she's lying and double check when you aren't sure (and let her know that you may double check so she best be honest). Show her that until she can be honest (and you can trust that she is being honest since she has broken that trust), you need verification on EVERYTHING.

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answers from Boca Raton on

NYMetroMom's post captures it perfectly imho, so I'm not going to re-state the same thing.

I used to get myself worked up about stuff like this when my kids were little, and somehow they have grown up to be really nice, respectable, honorable young men who make me proud every day.

This, too, shall pass.

Hang in there.



answers from Dallas on

I think we both know this is directly connected to your own struggles with your M.. You have a heightened fear of being deceived and your radar is up a bit too sensitive. Start over yet again. Take your crying and emotion out of it. You are making things too big of a deal. If she gets hung for every little thing then she is going to believe she is bad. Then anything will go for her because you are just going to be mad and think she is fundamentally flawed anyway.

Give her chances that will begin with your trust. Tell her, when she starts her story, I believe you because I choose to believe that you wouldn't lie to me and you are a little girl with character. If these are truly lies over the littlest things then don't sweat it. Treat it casually. Keep reassuring her that she is good and will choose to do what's right because of it.

Kids will live up to or down to the reputation you give them. Always round up.



answers from Redding on

At this age, there can be a difference between lying and fantasy.

If your daughter makes up a story about school, it can just be imagination.
Now, if she says that Johnny pushed her down and Johnny gets in trouble when he never touched her, that's a different story. A "lie" that hurts or harms someone else is not okay. Ever.

We all walk a fine line, don't we? A friend gets a hair cut and hopes for compliments when you are thinking, "What the heck did you do to yourself?"
We say it looks great and are glad they're happy. Right?

I always told my kids that when it came to me, I might be mad if they told me the truth, but I would be FAR madder if I found out they had lied to me. And, I emphasized that I would ALWAYS find out.

You see, my kids were not good liars. My nephew, God bless him, we all joked amongst ourselves that we were glad he wasn't even smart enough to come up with a good lie. He was smart, don't get me wrong, but "You're not going to believe this, but a bird flew in my window and that's why the stuff on my shelf got knocked down".

Hmmm. There's a screen on the window. No way a bird could get in. Nobody was going to fall for that story. Was it a "lie"? Of course it was. Was he being devious? Not necessarily. He didn't want to admit that he had been goofing off and throwing a ball in his room.

Look, you know when your kid isn't telling the truth. I don't know that tears and punishments are always in order.

My son was fairly young and dragging his feet about getting ready for school. He came to me with a thermometer and said, "You better look at it. According to this I am technically really sick".
I looked at it. I said, "Ummm, according to this, you are technically DEAD, so I advise you to get dressed and, don't let the water get so hot when you run the thermometer under it. Better luck next time."

He was shocked that I knew what he'd done. I just told him that I knew every trick in the book. And, he believed it. It turned out that one of his friends told him about putting the thermometer on a light bulb to make the temperature go up. Like I said, my kids were not good liars. I handled most of it with humor because they never lied about anything super serious or devious. Hey....once you're busted, there's no point in fibbing any longer.

Your daughter shouldn't have to "promise" that she's not lying when you already know she is or she's simply making something up.

You should try to put your trust issues with your mother aside. Your daughter is only 7 and none of that has anything to do with her.

Child psychologists have told me that children often "lie" about things they WISH were true. Your daughter may WISH that she hadn't messed with the Advent calendar and got caught, but she did.

I think it's important to talk to little kids about what they WISH was true and what really is true. Maybe take the emphasis off of the "lying" part.
Whatever you've been doing the past year isn't working.

There's nothing wrong with imagination. It can be great if directed properly.
And, there's nothing wrong with a kid saying, "M., I wish I hadn't done that, but I did." If your trust issues are spilling over onto her, that's not going to change things the way you are hoping.

This is just my opinion and I wish you well.

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