Discipline for Lying

Updated on March 30, 2010
B.C. asks from Dallas, TX
14 answers

Okay, I need to know what some of you other mamas do to discipline lying. I know my son lies because he doesn't want to get in trouble. He is VERY smart. We have spoken with him about the lying numerous times. We have told him he will get in more trouble when he lies than when he tells the truth. We just take things away from him now. I need some inovative ways to combat this problem. His punishment for lying to a teacher yesterday about "accidentally" pushing someone was a 7:30 bedtime for this whole week instead of 8:30 like usual. I know that lying is a part of childhood, so please share some things that have worked for you.
Thanks ladies!

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answers from Austin on

i cant punish my child as she is not old enough to understand, but my friend puts his children in the corner standing then after a minute he makes them kneel for a minute then stand again for a minute. He does this till they tell the truth. I think the idea is to give them a work out. He also makes his oldest son(10) do sit-ups or push-ups stuff like that.

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answers from Longview on

We battled with this with 2 boys.

I discovered some reasons for the lying.

1. too lazy to do the right thing. (so I gave them more activity to help them build up strength and endurance. LOL) Or sometimes I made them 'rest'- no tv, no books, no computer, no music, no games, etc.

2. too absorbed in an activity to move--so they need to learn self control and self guidance skills. So I set timers, checked on progress of assignments (which can be anything from picking up toys to writing spelling words), and made lists for them to check off things.

3. too lazy to care and confront life in general. They just want to play, play, play, play. So we did all the above and sometimes added punishment like spanking, time out, whatever works for that kid.

Occassionally you do have kids that just want to please you and will do anything to keep from having you or someone else get upset. They need to learn to care more about the truth than getting in trouble, seeing you upset, seeing anyone else angry with them, etc.

Good luck

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answers from Houston on

Dear B.:
If I suspect that my son lies, I give him one more chance without extra punishment to correct it. "Did you REALLY do xyz?" If he then admits that he lied, I tell him that he is not supposed to and that it was wrong, but I commend him for 'fessing up. If he insists and I can prove he lied, I will take some benefits away, usually a weekend trip or going to the movies - something he looks forward to. It now happens rarely. If other people are involved, I would get together and make him apologize. I also try to find out why he lied.

The punishment for lying should be a bit more than that for the deed, so I often say something like: "For doing xyz you don't get to do this and that, and for lying about it it's no allowance" That way he knows that it would have been 'cheaper' not to lie. If he fesses up last minute, of course I will waive the punishment for lying, but I remind him not to go that route again.


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answers from Dallas on

As the previous poster said, in a situation where he has lied, make two separate and distinct punishments that can't be confused with one another. That way it is very very clear that lying makes the situation worse.

For instance, if the punishment was earlier bedtime, I wouldn't say "it's 1/2 hour earlier because of x, and another 1/2 hour because you lied about doing x" - it's too easy to confuse it all as just "early bedtime." It would be, your bedtime is now earlier because of x, and you will also have [another punishment] because you lied.

We require our kids to apologize to anyone they have lied to in our presence (they can't just tell us they did it). If it is someone that we won't have the opportunity to see the next time our kids do (ie, teacher), we require them to write a letter of apology that we review. Usually we know the teacher got it, because they will email us and comment (the reaction has always been very positive).

With our oldest son we have required him to write essays about why lying is wrong, although 6 is too young for that but it could be an option in the future.

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answers from Dallas on

I would begin with writing sentences. I should be able to write "I will not lie" about a dozen times, then sign it and post it somewhere as a reminder. I just had my 4 yr old do this, and we put it on the fridge.

Then, according to a couple examples in the "love and logic" book, explain how lying really drains your energy, and he'll have to do something to replace your energy. Ask him what he thinks will put energy back in you. He'll say "I dunno" and you say "Would you like some ideas?" Here are some ideas you can offer him (don't offer more than 3):
"Some kids might agree to vacuum for a few days to put energy back in their parents, how does that sound?" Let him answer. (My 4 yr old can push a vacuum, so this is not beyond his ability)
Next choice: "OK, well, some kids might rake leaves (or pull weeds, or wash the car...), how does that sound?"
Next choice: "Well, the only idea I have left is that I've heard of some kids cleaning the bathrooms. That's really a great way to energize parents who are exhausted from kids' lying!"
If he can't decide, tell him that's fine, maybe he needs some time to think about his decision. "Would you like to sit in a corner to think, or would you prefer going to your room to think about this?"
Send him on to his "thinking place" and carry on with your afternoon/evening. Maybe you're getting a snack for other kids, or maybe you start dinner. Be sure that he doesn't re-join the family activities until he's made his decision. If he comes to you to join in whatever the rest of the family is doing, ask if he's made a decision. Be prepared to remind him of the choices. If no decision, empathetically send him back to his place for more thinking with "I'm sorry this is hard. Sounds like you need some more thinking time. I hope we'll get to spend some time with you soon."
You have to hold out longer than he does.
This means he doesn't even come in for dinner until he's made a decision. Feel free to take his homework to him in his corner or his room if he needs to work on it.
At 6, his hunger alarm shouldn't let him go too long, however, a strong-willed child just might be able to skip snack time, dinner and a bath. Surely by morning he'll cave in and offer his decision. That's when you respond with "Sounds like you've made a good choice! You must be starving after all that thinking!" And serve him up a big breakfast...

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answers from Odessa on

I'm sure that this is not your situation, but I had to lie as a means of survival when I was a child, because my grandmother who was raising me, would punish me so harshly for even the smallest infractions. Just drawing from that experience, I would say that maybe you could think of two different consequences. For example, if he gets into trouble at school, and lies about it, he has to go to bed early for a week. If he gets in trouble at school and is honest about it, then it will only last a day or two. You might explain to him that from now on, this is the way it's going to be, and he will learn soon enough that lying causes him far more problems than being honest....which is even true when he becomes an adult.

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answers from College Station on

The best way to deal with lying is to not offer the opportunity. If we see the child do something that we do not condone, then ask the child "Did you do this", of course they are going to save their behind.

Confront them openly. Instead try "I saw when it looked like you were doing such and such... please tell me what was happening or why you did such and such"

If someone comes and tells you that your child did such and such then confront the child with " I was told that you were behaving is such a way.. please let me hear your side of the story.."

If you come across a mess and did not witness who did it please do not ask, " Did you do this?" of course they know the adult may disapprove and say no. Instead try "Someone made this mess and it would be responsible for that person to admit it and help solve it or clean it up..."

Of course child appropriate language should be used. The fewer the words the better.
Children as young as two or three could understand that it is better to help than to lie. We as parents are falling into a trap of wanting our children to fess up with out offering them ample opportunity or training on how to do so.

IF the lies are plain fibs or stories being made up, then they need help understanding that storytelling is good for imagination, plays, books; but not for dealing with real problems.

Helping them with this when they are young will help for them and us in the long run.




answers from Houston on

In our house, tractors rule. So when my 3yo lies, we make him go pick out a tractor and give it to us. Then he goes in the corner and HE has to explain to US what he did wrong and why that's not ok. He really looks up to Daddy, so when Daddy gets that upset with him, it really hits home.



answers from Houston on

You got some really good advise that I agree with. Not allowing them that escape goat and having them apologize to the person for lying and for the wrong they lied about. My mom had us go in an apologize to the store clerk when we would steal and we never done it again. It humbles you and convicts you somehow where you just don't want to do it anymore. Don't forget to also tell them that when they lie it gets easier and easier then their word is no good. I would tell my son do you want to be the guy that tells something and then everyone is like I don't know it came from Landon you know you can't always believe him or do you want to be the guy that everyone is like well Landon told me and I know its true. That broke my son of lying and also the fact that I wouldn't listen to his side of the story because he lost the right to. Good luck it will be okay stick to your guns



answers from Houston on


I am guessing that your son is in first grade and should know his letters by now. If so, we make our 3rd grader write sentences (a little old school...but it works) and an apology letter to whomever he lied to. Of course at your sons age, you would have to dictate to him. We also take away privileges depending on how soon he confesses and based on the severity of his lying. We try and make the "discipline fit the crime"... i.e. if he lies and says he has completed his homework because he wants to go outside and play with friends, then we would ground him from playing with his friends for x amount of days.

I have also considered (but haven't yet) getting "The Better Behavior Wheel" http://www.better-behavior.com/index.html
It seems like it is something that will work for all areas of behavior correction.

Good Luck to ya!

M. L

I can't wait to see the other suggestions...



answers from San Antonio on

It may be that he does not understand what exactly a lie is. At this point, he is still learning to separate fiction from reality. He may still be thinking, if I say this is true, then it is.

Right now, I would just talk to him about it. Give him some examples that he understands too. If I asked daddy if he did the dishes and he did not, what should he say?



answers from Wichita Falls on

My punishment for lying is not trusting. Lie to me often enough, and you temporarily lose the right to tell "your side of the story".

It's pretty effective on my kids.



answers from Dallas on

some good advice, but the question to ask yourself is:
Do I have any other problems out of him beside not telling the truth. If the answer is yes, then like what?
If the answer is no, then ask him what he think lieing is.
If he understand, then each time he lies, let him know you want a honestest, for that means so much more than lieing. If the answer is the same, then allow him to know if you catch him lieing to you then the punishment will harsher on him, that if he comes across with the truth he is givig himself a break.
If the answer is the same, ask him what should he do if your or daddy lie to him. If it is something that he could do a well give him that punishment.

Lieing has to stop. My 30 yr old was a lier and they informed us she would come out of it, sadly she didn't and still battle not to lie, althought she does.
Her youngest daughter who is 7 which I am raising is following her footsteps on lieing.

I watch her movement for so often she wlll move or do her eyes a certain way if she is lieing which I can catch her in it.
so what for the body movement as well when he lies and does not lie.

If he is having more problems, then maybe the lieing he does goes along with a problem he may be occur that is more than a lie.

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