Lying.... Driving Me a Little Insane

Updated on December 05, 2012
... asks from Rancho Cucamonga, CA
26 answers

My son is 6 and in the 1st grade. Lately he has been lying all the time. And when I say all the time I am by no means exaggerating. Today was one of the worst. My son had earned $3 over the weekend( he could of earned more but he slacked on his chores) which means he gets to spend $2 and put $1 in the piggy bank. This morning while I was tying his shoes he told me that he put the last $1 in his bank. Then when I picked him up from school he had a chocolate bar worth $1 that they sell in the library. Before I could even ask he tells me he "finds a $1 on the floor in the classroom, tells the teacher and she says he can just keep it"

All the way to the car I repeatedly asked him to tell me the truth because I knew he was fibbing. I stressed that he wasnt going to be in trouble if he could just tell me the truth. But if he continued to lie then he would be in trouble. Finally pulling into the driveway he tells me the truth, he didn't put the $1 in the bank like he should of. I told him he needed to go inside and tell his dad. Web he came inside he refused to speak. So I tell my husband. He then proceeds to tell his dad that he never said that in the car and that I was a liar. The back and fourth of just tell us the truth went on for 5 minutes.

I decided it would be easier to call his teacher, she tells me that he brought the $1 in this morning and told her I gave it to him to buy a candy. Even still he wouldn't let up, he then started telling us the teacher was lying. He was sent to his room and after about an hour I talked to him as I normally do about lying and that it disappoints mom and dad all that stuff. He cries and says he's sorry. But he will do it again.

He has already got all of his toys taken away and put in the attic months ago. He doesn't get to do the fun activities if we catch him in a lie. He's been grounded. But now I am out of ideas. Today I had him do his homework, then I had him write 100 times "I will not lie"
My husband has grounded him until Thursday and he will write "I will not lie" 100 times all of those days.
I am decided if we should pull him off the basketball team. My husband and I are fresh out of ideas.

So if any of you have some advice I welcome it.

Also I want to add that he bought himself ice cream with the other $2 which is why he should of banked the last $1

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

I want to thank everyone for all the advice. He has earned toys back and then had them taken away again and now he hasn't been grounded for months normally its just 1-3 days at the most but he has been grounded a handful of times in these past months. Writing out positive lines instead of negative is what we are going to do so thank you for that. I don't feel as if I am trying to trap him. I tell him I know the truth and I want him to just be truthful with me. Also we didn't go back I told him if he told me the truth right then he wouldn't be in too much trouble. Instead he lied a couple more times, therefore he lost that opportunity. I agree I need to not give him so many chances to tell me the truth, I think I just get so blown away at how straight faced he can lie to me I want him to admit the truth. Instead I should send him to his room right away. As far as the parent coaching classes that made me lol :)
Thanks again ladies.

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answers from Youngstown on

I may get backlash for this but my daughter was lying a lot about 2 years ago. I was told to put vinegar on her tongue when she lied. She would equate the nasty taste of vinegar with lying and not do it again. She was lying so much it was almost daily and nothing was working. We did the vinegar and she didn't lie again for about 3 months. In the past 2 years I think she has lied about 4 times. I have used the vinegar some of those times but not every time. The threat of it snaps her back into shape and stops the lying.

Now before anyone bites my head off. Vinegar is a food substance. It has a nasty smell and taste but is in no way harmful when placed on the tongue. I dipped a paper towel in the vinegar and touched it to her tongue for about 5 seconds.

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answers from Chicago on

I had to write lines for my punishment when I was younger. I have recently given lines to my son, but I tried to keep it positive. Instead of "I will not lie" try "I will tell the truth". Focus on the positive action you want from him, instead of the one negative action he made.

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answers from San Francisco on

I think part of the lying is his inability to accept personal responsibility. That is a HUGE thing.

I agree that since this has gone on this long and nothing else is working, a good old fashioned spanking right on the spot is in order.

You could also see if there is a counselor or other professional at the school he can meet with to work on acceptance of responsibility. My GD is doing that now. She doesn't lie, but she will totally clam up and not say a single word rather than to acknowledge that she's done something wrong.

Good luck!

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answers from Portland on

Please, consider some parent coaching or family counseling.

I know you are concerned with him being honest, however, I think the adult reactions to these situations are rather extreme. Let's be clear; I do not condone lying. I don't. However, I think you are raising the stakes on this when it might not be the most effective way to get him to be honest.

Instead of repeatedly questioning him in the car, could you have just sat with the information and then, when you got home, asked him "I know you told me that you found the money for the candy bar on the floor at school. I also know that you might have liked to spend your money from this weekend on something, and that the dollar you spent on the candy might have been the dollar you earned this weekend. I'd be really happy if you could tell me, before we open your piggy bank, what really happened."

There's an old saying: you catch more flies with honey. When Nurtureshock came out, one chapter was devoted to the topic of why children lie and how they learn to. First, they learn from us; either they see us do it, or they learn to avoid trouble with fibs (like what your son tried to do). One study they did was to see which tactic reduced lying: teaching children the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" (which is punitive) or teaching "George Washington and the Cherry Tree", in which Washington's father praises him for being honest, even when he didn't like what had happened. When children were then placed in a tempting situation and then had to recount for their actions, the children who heard the George Washington story lied significantly less than the kids who had heard "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", who overwhelmingly lied.

One thing I do, when I've sussed out that my son is lying, is to give him an opportunity to tell the truth, and then to let him know how happy it makes me that he can tell me when he's made mistakes, and that I can help him fix them. It brings us closer, he feels understood, and it keeps the lines of communication open. And he knows that if he lies "Mama always finds out". He's still amazed that I do.

Now, I'm going to get a bit more personal. I WAS that kid, the one that you are describing. I lied to save my butt, and I felt (at the time, with my kid logic) that my offenses weren't *that* bad. And in the grand scheme of things, they weren't. I was older, but I still remember feeling that I was a disappointment and failure to my parents, reprehensible and someone not worthy of love. As my parents tried to punish me into being a good kid, my behavior only grew worse because I could never seem to do anything right. There was never a good moment or a win, and it took me years to heal from that sort of parenting. You are lucky. You are starting now. You have the chance to make things better while your son is young, before you all hurt each other any further. Because he is hurting. Kids who lie like this have something going on, and they just lie automatically because that's become their way of interacting with their adults--getting into trouble.

You need to find out what's going on with your son, deep down. Get your family into counseling. At the very least, talk to the school counselor. If you are at the point that he is writing 100 times "I will not lie" for four days, that's when there needs to be some outside help brought in because it seems extremely excessive. (Even in fifth grade, an infraction in the classroom meant writing something fifty times, not one hundred, multiplied by four.) Think about it: he's supposed to be six years old and hold back a certain amount of money, but you gave him access to it? That's a LOT to ask of a child, to not spend money that he has access to. I think that is far more than what's appropriate for a child of this age. If you want him to save that extra dollar, you should own that and make him hand it in to you, so you don't put him into this tempting situation.

And no, I would not pull him off basketball. Please know I mean this in the best way possible-- he needs *something* to look forward to. Can you imagine being six with all of your favorite things taken away? Would that make you want to be good, or just hate life? Please find another way of addressing this.

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answers from Columbia on

I completely agree with Retta.

Both of my boys get an allowance. They put 10% in Tithe, 20% in Savings, and the rest is theirs to do with as they wish.

But there's also another place their money can go. We call it "demerits."

When you lie, backtalk, or behave in an unacceptable way, you get a "demerit." Mom and Dad decide how much to charge for a demerit. We've charged 25 cents for arguing with their brother, 50 cents for backtalking once (plus additional 50 cents for more backtalking), and $1 for lying. When a demerit occurs, we just write it on a list. We don't warn them or tell them when it happens (inviting arguing and anger). When it's "payday," we pay them their entire amount. Then we simply pull out the lists and then remind them of each instance and how much they're they have to hand the money back to us and SEE what they've lost.

We haven't had a demerit in a while. :-)

For a 6 year old who was accusing me and other adults of being liars, I'd tell him that is not appropriate and tell him to go to his room until he can come out, be honest and admit his lies, and apologize. I'd also call that a double lying demerit, because he lied AND called two adults liars. $2 gone.

I would also make him write an apology letter to his teacher AND tell her he's sorry to the teacher's face. Tell him that you will be calling to make sure he does it.

The thing with lying is that there is no "magic wand" fix to deal with this. You simply have to stay consistent and stick with age appropriate consequences that focuses on HIS currency (sounds like he really likes money..enough to steal it from himself and lie about it). I don't think that taking all his things and activities away is the right answer. He needs a logical consequence. If he lies, he owes restitution to those he lied to. And he gets demerits and loses what he loves (money).

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answers from Portland on

I suggest that you've put too much negative emphasis on lying causing him to lie even more because he doesn't understand what you're wanting him to do. At 6 he's still not intellectually mature enough to always understand the difference between a lie and the truth. Often what kids this age do is tell you what they wish the truth was. He told you he put the $1 in his bank because he wants to please you. Then when you began to closely question him he again told you what he wished had happened. He wants to please you and because of your intensity he came up with something that made sense to him.

I suggest that you can best teach him by talking with him instead of accusing him. Teach him the truthful way to talk. For example when he arrived with a candy bar tell him he must've taken the $1 to school and that his why he was able to buy the candy bar. This way you're not putting him in a position to lie to you.

Punishing him will not help. He won't be able to connect writing 100 times with lying. He still doesn't even understand what all the fuss is about. He doesn't comprehend the concept of truth and lie. He will definitely not be able to understand how being grounded or not playing basketball or having his toys taken away is related. As you've discovered. Taking away his toys did not stop his lying, did it?

Discipline only works when it's related to the offense and when it teaches how to behave next time. I urge you to consider his age and intellectual maturity and cut him some slack while teaching him the difference between the truth and a lie. For example once you've told him that you know he bought the candy bar with the $1 he said he put in his bank, tell him you know he didn't put it in his bank and saying so is a lie. Keep talking with him about the difference between the two. And when you catch him in a lie, be direct in a kind manner tell him that's a lie and you want the truth. Ask him what really happened.

And stop setting him up to lie. When you know the truth do not ask him what happened. And when he tells you a lie, tell him you know that's not true. I'd add some humor to the situation by telling him that you know that he wishes it were true and laugh together about how that isn't so.

What you are doing now is punishing him for doing something he doesn't fully understand. It sounds like you are treating him as a bad boy. He's not bad. He needs to learn. Sounds like you're angry, too. And he wants to please you so he'll lie in hopes that you won't be mad. Take the emotion out of your discipline. Focus on teaching instead of punishing. And do not set him up to lie. Tell him you understand he wants things to be a certain way. Make it alright to have a fantasy but show him it's just a fantasy.

Here is a web site that does a much better job of explaining about lies and fantasy.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

you have gotten some really great advice so far. we actually were just having a discussion about this the other day in a study class i am in. it is SUCH a hard thing to instill in kids.

my 6 year old has adhd so it is sometimes hard to tell if it is a true lie, or his perception because he wasn't really paying attention and missed half of what happened. so i understand the struggle.

i had a couple thoughts as i read your post, not sure if they will help but..first it kind of bothered me that you say he "got all of his toys taken away and put in the attic months ago." are they still there? that seems very extreme and harsh. i think the punishment should fit the crime. maybe instead of such harsh punishment (and the things you list are punishments, not consequences or discipline), maybe when he lies, have him admit his lie to the person he lied to (in this case, his teacher.) if he 'fesses up and apologizes, that's the end of it. natural consequences for lying are people thinking less of you and not trusting you. probably the embarrassment would be a much bigger lesson than taking all his toys or putting him in boot camp like you describe with the writing of sentences and such.

six year olds don't have that long of attention spans, is my point. the toys being gone for MONTHS, writing 100 sentences, and especially taking him off the basketball team, will have impact for a day or two, but after that, it's just mean.

the other thought i had- the moment he called me a liar the discussion would be OVER. go to your room. you do NOT speak to your mother that way. we can talk later when you decide to tell the truth and respect your mother. i don't accept that kind of treatment from anyone, much less a 6 year old who is only looking to shift blame.

i absolutely would not have engaged a 6 year old in a five minute argument. YOU don't have to justify yourself. YOU are not a liar. therefore there's no argument to be had. you played his game and let him have control over the situation.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I firmly believe there is such a thing as too much punishment..and from what you describe, I think you guys are at that point. You have taken all his toys away, how long ago? When does he get them back? He is grounded, has been grounded, is still grounded? And he has to write sentences?

From the outside looking in, it appears you guys might have put too much focus and attention on the lying and now it has gotten way out of hand and he probably sees no way of getting out from underneath it all. At this point, since he has gotten all of his prized belongs taken away for so long now and he is probably used to it and is on constant grounding and probably used to that as well, what is his motivation to do better?

If he were my child, I would give him all his toys back. Take him off the grounding and have a conversation about starting over, starting fresh and that from this point on, he will get in NO trouble IF he tells the truth. Have a family meeting where you guys talk it out and admit that things aren't working the way they should and have everyone agree that you guys need a re-set and then do it. Give him some praise for being a good kid and that you know he is a good kid and that you want to give him the opportunity to prove it. It is always easier to 'keep' being/staying good and out of trouble than it is to try to work your way back to being good, ya know what I mean? Give him a second chance...

~The #1 rule in our house has always been that as long as they tell the truth, they don't get in trouble and then I stick to my end of the bargain. If I ask them a question and they lie and I know they are lying, they get one chance and I tell them so: "If you come clean and tell the truth you will not be in trouble. Would you like to answer me again"? If they then amend their previous statement, I thank them and tell them they did a good job and how proud I am of them for coming clean. If they do not tell the truth there is a consequence. But I *always* give them a chance to come clean!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

So basically he has nothing and has distanced himself from all his personal belongings so it doesn't hurt so much. He's not learning to miss them, he's learning they don't mean anything. He has built a wall between himself and his items so when you take them away he feels nothing.

He's not gaining anything from the way you are handling this. He needs to get a huge reward each and every time he tells the truth. At first each time he does come clean and say what is right you need to give him praise then do something nice for him.

Maybe one day next week, even if he hasn't been telling the truth all the time still do something, and say "Hey, you know the other day when I asked you XXX XX XXX? And you told me the truth? I just wanted to say thank you and do something special with you. I enjoy it so much when you tell the truth so let's do something fun!" then take him for an ice cream cone or something he enjoys like going to the park for 20 minutes.

Lying gets him nothing and telling the truth gets him nothing. Why even try?

He needs to feel something for telling the truth. Love and Logic Parenting Classes are taught this way. Rewarding good behavior and having normal consequences will teach him far more than randomly taking away items that have nothing at all to do with the action he is doing.

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answers from San Francisco on

Obviously what you are doing is not working.
I don't think a six year old should be managing his own money anyway, at least not for a few years. I know if I had the choice between buying a candy bar and putting my money in the bank at that age I would have chosen the chocolate too, and I also would have tried not to get caught, meaning yes, I would have lied about it!
I wasn't a bad kid, I was a LITTLE kid, and so is your son, give him a break. If you want him to save part of his money then set up a savings account for him and give him a little passbook where he can track his savings. THAT will teach him the value of money without giving him the tempting opportunity to spend it.
And please don't pull him off the basketball team, especially if that's something he loves. If you're not careful you are going to create an even bigger problem by having a child who's punished so often and so much he won't even TRY to be good anymore.

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answers from Boise on

When you catch your children lying, the first thing to do is figure out why they're lying. Is it fear? Fear can be a great motivator when kids choose a lie over the truth. Self-preservation is a strong need in many young children.

What if they are protecting someone? Older children often do this for their younger siblings, as nobody wants to be the rat in the family. Getting my own kids to understand that the only person they are hurting is themselves took some time and a lot of patience.

How about those lies that just slip out? The ones where they answer the question before they have actually thought it through. We have all been there at one point or another. I know I have been guilty of it myself. When it happens with my kids, though, I will often just repeat the question. I try to give them a chance to correct their answer. In most cases that is all it takes.

More than anything, I believe that kids lie because they love us, they want our approval, and they do not want to disappoint us. It's humbling when you really think about it, because they just cannot grasp that no matter what they do, we will always love them. However, love and approval do not always have to go hand in hand.

Here are some good conflict resolutions when faced with lying.

* Do not play the blame game. Stick to the topic at hand.
* Do not cross-examine. This will only cause them to close themselves off from you.
* When asking the question, try not to put them into a position where they feel a lie is needed.
* Remember when they are truthful to be appreciative of the truth. That doesn't mean the action isn’t punishable.

This doesn’t mean your child will never lie again in their lives. That’s not realistic. But a good foundation will make it so that in the right situations they will feel comfortable coming to you with the truth.

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answers from Seattle on

I am still trying to wrap my head around the whole "told my husband that I was a liar and it went back and forth for 5 minutes."
I have a son that also lied. Still does sometimes! 6 is PLENTY old enough to know the difference between the truth and a lie. But he was lying because he was caught. Don't play the "i know what you did, just tell me the truth" play the " I know what you did, come on out of your room when you are ready to tell me the truth" Then off he goes to his room!
I have talked to my kids a lot about lying, how I HATE being lied to my face, how there will always be punishment for bad behavior but it will be way more severe if there is lying involved. My eldest gets that and I can't even remember a time he has lied to me. My middle is still testing me. So, the consequence is always the same.
I don't parent by rewarding good's expected. I am a fun mom who takes my kids out, buys little gifts when we can afford it, wrestles, reads books, sings song, colors, plays "guys" ...the whole 9 yards. But, if you lie to my face then you are in trouble. I have found, with my kids, that added chores always makes them groan. So, lie, scrub the toilet. Lie, vacuum. Lie..pull weeds. Lie, clean out the cat box (if you have one). You get the idea.
I say....he does chores for the week and ALL the money goes in the bank.

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answers from Sacramento on

Well, on the one hand, he is 6. Developmentally, lying isn't out of the ordinary. However, he is getting to the age when you have to start being sure that he knows right from wrong and starts to understand clearly that lying is unacceptable and will cause more problems than telling the truth. If not, lying can become become an easy habit and hard to break. From what you describe though, I think you and your husband's punitive consequences are only going to add to the problem. In short, it's too much for a 6 year old.

Would you describe him as a sensitive kid, imaginative, smart, creative?

Kids lie at this age and to this degree because of an underlying problem. You and your husband will need to take an entirely different approach if you want to straighten out his behavior. And I would seek some parenting classes and/or coaching to do that. Positive reinforcement to build up his self esteem and confidence is what will change his behavior; not taking stuff away, not pulling him off basketball or making him write sentences or expressing your disappointment. I'd be willing to bet that he already feels like his misbehaves too much and disappoints you... a lot.

I would have a meeting with his teacher first just with you. Talk to her about a strategy. In mucky situations like this a team approach is best. I would tell you about your concerns and let her know that you want to come up with some reasonable and natural consequences. For example if he is saying that he has to go to the bathroom during class, but he's really out monkeying around, he can't leave the classroom anymore unless it's an emergency. He needs to take potty breaks during the transitions of recess, lunch etc... because he's not doing what he said he would do. Then I would have a meeting with you and your son and the teacher so that he knows that everyone is on the same page and that he can't claim that one is lying because you are in close communication. Express worry about his behavior and confidence that he is a good kid who is able to have good behavior.

As for the money, you can tell him that he hasn't been truthful about what he is doing with his money, so he's lost the privilege of handling his own money. You will keep it and give him whatever his spending is and you will put the reminder in his piggy bank that is also in your possession. And when he's shown that he can do what he says he will, then he can earn the privilege back.

Find natural consequences for what he lies about. Parents have a second sense to know when kids are lying. Don't give him the 3rd degree expecting him to happily tell you the truth. Give him an opportunity to tell the truth and then tell him what YOU know and set the consequences.

In between praise him for the things that he does well. Catch him before he does something wrong and instead of scolding him say something that will make him make the right choice. The best result of this is that a kid who normally chooses to do negative behavior for attention will begin to do positive things because the positive reinforcement they get feels better. The negative choices becomes"look at me doing something helpful and good!" Because he wants to make you happy and feel your approval.

Best of luck~ parenting is hard work.

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answers from New York on

Very briefly, you're doing a great job creating disincentives (punishments), but to the 6-year-old brain, there's a punishment everywhere you turn. He does something he's not supposed to do -- he'll get punished for doing it and double-punished for lying about it. BUT, if his lie is believed, he escapes punishment altogether. So according to primitive punishment math, this really is the safest course of action.

Also, kids this age have a fairly unstable grip on the truth. They're at the age where they sort of believe in, say, Santa Claus, but deep down inside, if they think too hard about it, the flying reindeer, the fat guy going down everybody's chimney with a huge bag of presents, it doesn't add up. So, they will themselves to believe. The flip side of that is lying. Kids will themselves to believe something that at another level they know isn't true.

Also, if you tell a kid this age what a liar he is (even if it's the truth), he'll take it as an identity -- okay, I'm a liar, that's just who I am. They start to feel helpless in the face of the impulse to lie.

So, what you have to do is create a carrot for telling the truth. I don't know about a tangible reward, but praise him to the skies for small truths. Make the truth have its own draw. In other words, you need to direct him TOWARD the correct behavior, not just away from the wrong behavior.

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answers from Miami on

I think maybe you might want to talk to a counselor about this. This is more than just lying. This is a problem. I would want a professional's opinion as to how to proceed with this.

Go by yourself the first time rather than taking your child with you. See what the counselor has to say. Your ped should be able to recommend someone who is good at this kind of thing.

So sorry - this must be very frustrating.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

There is solid evidence that punishment for lying does NOT work. This is true even in cultures where lying is punished severely (as in beating or losing limbs, not time outs). Please look at this link:

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answers from Appleton on

Tell him a whopper. You and hubby decide on a big lie and really play it up. Something like you will spend a week at Disneyland over Christmas and he needs to start packing and planning what to take. Let it go a couple of days ----- then tell him you lied and you're are not going.

Until he understands how much a lie hurts he probably won't stop. So play it up make it big --- so the let down is big and then he will understand.

I know it sounds mean but you have tried everything else.

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answers from Norfolk on

Why are you paying him an allowance?
To learn about handling money and setting goals?
Is he saving up for a particular toy or treat that he wants? (He should be.)
To learn that if you want something you have to save for it or else you don't have the money to buy it?

All you are teaching him right now is to hide things from you because he can't tell you the truth without being punished.
Change your approach on this because he's not learning what you want him to and you are teaching the wrong lesson.
Besides that, you are using up your best punishments and he's building up a tolerance for them.

Have a clear goal for him - that one toy he wants so badly (get a picture of it or an ad for it)
- have him write down the price - and the rate he needs to save in order to buy it by a certain date - and then let him do what he wants with his allowance.
Either he'll save what he's suppose to, or he'll save more than he's suppose to, or he'll blow his money on nonsense and not save it at all.
And the consequence of not saving will be he has punished himself by not being able to buy the toy - and he'll have no one to blame but himself.

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answers from Columbus on

I know he is driving you crazy..... but.... you said that if he told the truth, the consequences wouldn't be as bad as if he kept lying.... Then, when he did tell the truth, that is not what happened. So, to him, you went back on your word (in his view, lying), and undermined any reason he has to tell the truth.

When he does tell the truth, you need to follow through with the promise. Do not show a lot of emotion (or any, if you can). Thank him for telling the truth. Tell him you appreciate that he was honest. Acknowledge his feelings--he wanted that candy bar, and he had obviously been thinking about getting it since he planned ahead to bring money to school to buy it.

Ask him to help solve this problem, and specifically break it into 2 pieces--one dealing with how best to handle his money, and two, how to deal with wanting treats (it sounds like he likes his sweet stuff. :)

And it's not too late to go bad to this particular episode, and tell him that you didn't handle it very well (hard words to say, especially when one is still mad at the kid.... but still, he needs to see you take ownership of your behaviour), and that you feel very badly that you came down on him like a ton of bricks for the candy bar incident. If you can get your DH to also say this, that is a huge thing.

I would also recommend reading & putting into practice "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk". I won't solve the problem of lying by itself, but will help open & improve communication as well as deal with some parenting conumdrums, which will almost surely remove his need/desire to lie, or at least lessen it.

I also strongly suggest that you to read NurtureShock. There is a specific section on lying that will change the way you think about kids and lying. Scroll down past the "article" part to read the chapter on lying.

Lastly, look really hard at what you and DH say and do. Do you do a lot of little white lies? Like, you don't want to be on the phone with someone, so you say, "Oh, I have to go because we need to leave for appointment" or other "white lie" to get off the phone? Do you fib on things like paying full admission ("Billy is 5, not 6, so we get the discounted admission" when in fact he's not?), etc.? If so, it's time to stop that because you're modeling lying, however "innocent" to him.

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answers from Chicago on

Instead of focusing on the lying, focus on how he can get what he wants by being truthful.

Kids only lie because they want something and aren't sure how to get it. Lying becomes the solution.

Talk to him about how he could have gotten the candy without lying. Make him come up with the answers. You could even let him know that you might have allowed him to buy the candy if he had just been honest and asked. This helps him to come to you when he wants something, and the two of you can work out how he can get it AS A TEAM. Help him to understand that you want him to be able to have things that he wants too, but that they must be earned honestly.

The punishment should fit the crime. He should have to work extra chores to earn another $1 to put in his bank.
Good luck!

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answers from Minneapolis on

human beings are going to naturally try to find the path of least resistance. for anything. your son is no exception. you set up the 'perfect storm' for him to spin his lie. just enough leeway for there to be doubt (did he or did he not put the last dollar in the bank) and opportunity. he KNEW you'd be mad if he did the wrong thing, and yet there was room for him to spin his tale.

personal accountability is the best defense against dishonesty, imho. if he has problems understanding that someone woould 'miss' the dollar, then it needs to be demonstrated to him. perhaps a real savings account he could take his one or three dollars to? or overseeing him counting his bank out every week to make sure it balances?

finally, and maybe more importantly, he seems to be demonstrating a desire to make personal decisions. this is not to be dismissed! he wants to reap some some of the rewards of his earnings, and finally has an outlet! how excititing! with my DD, we have agreed that 1/3 of her earnings are hers, 1/3 goes to savings, and 1/3 to charities (including scouts and 4H). She has purchase power, and we keep our comments to ourselves on that third. And because of the other 2/3, the initial 1/3 is much more meaningful to her.

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answers from Syracuse on

My middle child was such a good liar. He could convince you that snow. Was purple. Make you wonder if you are color blind ect. Taking things from him as is that working. ( He doesn't need toys he has puppets to entertain him). My opinion He is looking for attention and positive reinforcement. When he appeared with the chocolate bar you already knew what had happened but entertained him with your pleading and questions. Take the chocolate bar and stop at the first garbage can and dispose of it. He doesn't deserve trust explain that and explain how he can earn it back. Make him do extra chores but all of his pay goes in a special account held by you. Once he has proved himself he can have his $ but that won't happen overnight. Don't entertain him with questions that you already know the answer too. I know it's hard. But it will be worth it in the end As for the basketball team. He. Made a commitment to the team and should uphold that

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answers from Williamsport on

Talking to him about lying is no consequence at all for lying, so consider those talks as having no effect (normal). He had the toys taken away months ago, were they ever given back? He has no toys? If you gave them back, did you take them EVERY SINGLE time he lied with a long "earning back" period? (Not saying that delayed drawn out scenario would be terribly effective either, but if you weren't consistent or very tough about it, it really wouldn't matter). Missing an activity is a void, but unless he's in a very uncomfortable situation instead, he's totally fine missing an activity. Pulling him off a team seems like another mild thing that would only deprive him of good lessons he could learn in the sport.

My kids have (or would have, they barely tried it) been firmly spanked for lying immediately. That's once they were old enough to fully understand the act of making a choice to lie. We also talk about lying being wrong, but that's an aside in peaceful times, not in lieu of discipline. This started at age 3-ish, and none of them continued. They are always thanked and praised or telling the truth. Black and white: A lie and immediate, painful consequence or the truth with praise and happy outcome. I was raised the same way and NEVER lied to my parents (or anyone) when I was small. I went through a normal sneaky teen phase, but aside from that I have always been a VERY honest and conscientious person to this day.

I am abhorred by the trend now to "phrase things" so as not to trap kids into lying and to accept it as normal. It's VERY difficult to eat humble pie and fess up to wrong doing. it is SO important to learn and it takes practice. I think it's really sad the trend has become to enable kids to swerve around that very important lesson. Part of the lesson I always teach my kids is that it's MUCH harder to tell the truth, but that's what good, strong people do. I'm glad you are willing to tackle it head on.

He's not at all concerned with the consequences of lying. Holy cow I can't fathom an ongoing debate with teachers and parents in which I still kept lying to all three. Calling adults liars?! I wouldn't have been sitting down for a week after about five minutes of that. You need to be tougher with whatever you decide to use and absolutely consistent with your ONE TOUGHEST THING. Make dad be in charge if possible. Make it immediate, and I wouldn't recommend removing things that are good for him and help his character. If you prefer removals to physical discipline (I would do both at his age PLUS very hard chores) then strip is room and let him earn back things one by one with x days of right behavior and hard work. Keep discipline separate form learning activities.

The money thing is not the point to me. My six year old can't budget money either. Just focus on the lying whenever it happens.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I don't have a good answer to the lying problem, but I would encourage you to instead of having him write "I will not lie" repeatedly, to use writing to have him explore his reasons or how he thinks it makes you feel when you are lied to. Writing repetitive sentences probably won't change the behavior, and may have the added problem of making him dislike writing. But using writing as a problem-solving tool (What could I have done differently? How did this affect others? Why is this a problem?) would be helpful.

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answers from Dallas on

Punishing and discipline are not the same thing. Discipline is teaching. Punishing is just punishing. Somehow you all have to find out why he gets on a roll. Keep him on the basketball, and talk to his teacher and coach about strategies to help stop the lying.

I found this site - - maybe it has some helpful tips.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Oh geez I sense your total frustration and have no complete answer for you other than I recall I was quite the fibber in the first grade. I grew out of it after being called out by my peers (which I am certain the humiliation and rejection from them was a far greater influence than that of my unconditionally loving family). My main concern for you is that he seems to have quite a "voice" with his arguing. He should (IMO) have nothing to say especially calling you a liar. That is not ok. You are his mother and he should never be able to disrespect you in that way. His anger at being caught is going to be present but he needs to be quiet and listen. The consequence should be (IMO) be that he does his chores and you now store his savings for him and for each lie he is caught in he gets to work that week for savings funds for his liking. I am just saying, he seems to love his money and his sweets, so take that first since it was where he violated your trust here. I would move from there which each situation and consequence being directly related to what is was that was so important to lie about being the thing taken.

You need to feel like you are in some form of control and his being able to discuss this situation with you and your husband seems to place him on your level..I hated it when my parents would talk to me and I was just to listen and not say anything...

Best of luck to you and its easy for me to say as I am not in your situation so I hope I am not coming off as a "know it all" or negatively..I am on your side as a parent and just looking from the outside perspective.

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