Lying to Get Out of Trouble

Updated on June 22, 2011
S.A. asks from Layton, UT
7 answers

My 6 year old daughter has recently started lying. She has only been up for 2 hours and has already lied 3 times today. I am at the end of my rope. She has been telling lies to get out of trouble. I have read other responses to other questions about lying, and I'm wanting a little more help. I don't think she is doing it to get more attention. I am a SAHM, and she gets 2 1/2 hours of me all to herself every day while her little bro is sleeping. We usually spend at least 1 of those hours snuggling on the couch reading (she chooses that as one of her favorite things to do), then, we make cookies, color, play dolls, plant flowers, play in the back yard, etc. One of the rules of our house is no TV unless I ok it. She got up this morning and turned on the tv (it was PBS, but it is the principle of it). When I saw her laying on the couch, she immediately turned off the TV. I asked her if she was watching TV & she said no. I looked her straight in the eye & said, "Are you sure?" She then looked me straight in the eye and said, "No, I promise I wasn't watching TV!" I then turned on the TV & saw that it was on PBS. I know for a fact that it wasn't on PBS last night when we went to bed. Then when I asked her how it got on PBS, she said that she didn't know. I told her how I was disappointed that she had lied to me about the TV. She asked me how I knew she lied. I explained, and then she apologized and said that she wouldn't lie again. Not 45 minutes later, she lied about throwing a puzzle at her brother when he wouldn't play with her. I asked her what had happened, and she said that HE threw it at her. I know exactly what happened, and I again told her that I won't get nearly as mad if she tells the truth. She denied it again, and when I told her that I saw it happen, she said that she was sorry & wouldn't lie again.

I just don't know what to do. We have talked about lying, what it means, how it hurts peoples feelings, and how nobody will be able to trust her or believe what she says because she lies so much. We've talked about the little boy who cried wolf, and all sorts of concequences of lying. I know she knows exactly what lying means. I know that kids have crazy imaginations at that age & make up stories and stretch the truth. That is just part of growing up. But all this lying to get out of trouble is driving me out of my mind. We've explained that if she tells the truth the first time, she won't get into nearly as much trouble as if she lies to us. For punishment, I've tried to take away privliges, she's stayed in her room with no toys or books, she's lost out on playdates & fun excursions with our family. I've tried pepper on her tongue and also alum. I won't do soap because she'll throw up & I don't want to clean it up! : ) I just don't know what else to do. Do any of you wise Moms out there have any suggestions? Please help! Thanks!

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answers from Chicago on

You're actually 'helping' her to lie by the way you are interacting with her. It's developmentally age appropriate for her to be figuring out lying at this age and it's your job to HELP her NOT lie. not to punish her for catching her. You goal is to teach her how to behave.

First of all, you know she has impulse control problems, so eliminate them for her. Take the cord to the TV so she can't turn it on without you.

Next - if you KNOW she did something wrong, don't ask her if she did it. That's game playing. State the fact and then discuss it. "Susie, you were watching TV this morning and that is against the rule. You will not be able to watch TV for the rest of the day". You eliminate the lying all together.

if you KNOW she threw the puzzle at her brother you say "Susie - we do not throw in this house. Apologize to your brother and go play by yourself in your room (or the dining room, or whatever) until you are ready to behave correctly."

Also - her motivation for telling the truth shouldn't be so you don't get mad. YOUR emotions should not be the driving factor in why she behaves. She's not responsible for how you feel. So separate your emotion from her behavior and then deal only with HER behavior. Using the 'mommy will be sad if you...." is only developmentally appropriate for kids who are like 3 when you are teaching them empathy. At this point it's time to focus on behavior.
"Susie - lying is not something we do in this family. You lied about eating the cookies. Therefore, you will not be able to eat cookies for the rest of the week" or whatever.

I disagree that the consequence should not happen if she tells the truth. She is 6. She knows the rules. If the rule is that you ask before turning on the TV, then if she turns on the TV she loses that priviledge for the rest of the day. The consequence for lying about it is that she loses independence. If you can't trust her to be up without turning on the TV then she can't enter the room where the TV is until you are there. 2 different issues, 2 different consequences.

There should not be punishment that is not related to the issue - what does putting pepper on her tongue teach her? It teaches her that you will cause her discomfort if she breaks a rule. Instead - TEACH her what to do and why it's important.

Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

There's a consequence for the misbehavior and a seperate consequence for the lying.
Because you turned on the tv without permission you are not allowed to watch tv today at all. Because you lied to me about turning on the tv you will spend 30 minutes of your brother's nap time in your room by yourself.

Make sure you stress that the second punishment would not have happened if she had chosen to tell the truth.

We also do good choices/poor choices jars. Catch them doing something good and they get a good choices token, and vice versa. I pay them $10 when they fill the good choices jar (or sometimes we come up with a fun reward they really want), but if the poor choices jar fills first they lose all the good choices marbles they had already earned.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Buffalo on

My 5 year old does this too, so did his older bother at that age. The way I handle it is:

When I bust him lying he gets put in the corner , right then and there. Then we talk about it. We talk about how he got one punichment for lying and another for the action. Had he just told me the truth his punishment for the action would have been smaller than the oneI gave him and he would not have had to stand in the corner for lying. When he does it again he goes back in the corner then i give him an example of a lye, "Honey would you like some Chocolate milk?" The give hime regular milk. he will say "this is not Chocolate milk" I will say "Yes it is" when he come back with no it is not, I will get down to his level, it is not nice when someone lies to you is it. Then I give him a stronger punishment. Just keep increasing the level of punishement.

When he tells me the truth, no matter how small the truth, I give him Positive feedback. Thank you Honey for telling me the truth. Since you told me the truth you will not have to go to you room, can you help me clean up the mess. Hugs. and then we talk about what he just did wrong and how to change it to be correct.

Good luck, just stay consistant, She will get it.

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answers from Washington DC on

When I ask my kids a question, I also tell them that they will be in more troulbe for telling me a lie than if they just tell me the truth. For example, my boys jump on the bottom bunk in their room all the time, and they get in trouble for it. Their room is right above our living room, so when they are in bed and the hubby and I are chilling, we deifnitely hear everything they do. Last night they did it and my son started to tell me no, but I stopped him and reminded him that the punishment for lying would be worse, so he told the truth. He still got in trouble, but not as much because he did right by being honest. I'd try that route. I do that with all 3 of my kids and it's starting to work to where I don't have to remind them each time.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

First of all, be assured that lying to get out of trouble is normal at this age. Not acceptable, but normal - most kids go through it.

What I do is enforce a stricter consequence for lying. For example with the tv, if she had turned on the tv without your okay, the consequence might be a scolding or a reminder, or maybe no tv for the day (up to you); but lying about it would mean no tv for the day (if that wasn't already the consequence, or for tomorrow too if it was). You have to patiently explain and remind them that the consequences are WORSE when they lie. And then the trick is to make sure that when they do tell the truth, that you recognize that and give them a milder consequence.
Also, we tend to set them up to lie. If I know my son was playing with something he's not allowed to, I don't ask if he was, I just tell him I know he was and then go on to the consequence (he still may try to say he wasn't to get out of it, but at least I haven't opened the door). It's a hard habit to break, but save the questions for when you really need to find out (who ate the last cookie? instead of did you eat the last cookie?)

It doesn't change quickly. You have to keep working with it (and keep talking about how lies are bad, etc), but when they see lying creates more trouble, they will lose some of the incentive to lie.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

You have told her that she won't get in as much trouble if she tells the truth about it. But does she really see that?
At 6 she should know what the consequences are for certain actions. My almost 6 year old knows that hitting gets him 5 minutes in the corner if I see it. If my daughter (3) tells me he hit her and he lies (meaning I know he did it) then he gets 7 minutes in the corner. And I make sure to point out that he got the extra 2 minutes for lying. If his sister says he hit her and he tells the truth then he gets 4 minutes in the corner. And I make sure he understands that the punishment was lightened because he told the truth.
Same thing goes for TV on when it's not allowed. At our house that results in losing TV priviledges for the day. The one time it was on and he lied about it he lost TV for the whole week. This only works if your kids know the consequences for their actions and you point out that lying gets a bigger punishment and telling the truth lightens it (or makes you only get the regular punishment). You have been telling this to her, but it may be that she just doesn't see it and is testing the waters to see if it really is true.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on

I have taught all of my children that they must obey even when I'm not looking. That warrants saying outloud. :) Making up stories is not just part of childhood--it's just being naughty, and it isn't okay. Try rephrasing your communication. Not, "Did you eat a cookie?" but "I can see by the chocolate on your face you ate a cookie." Don't allow her the opportunity to lie...state the fact as you see it, and give a consequence accordingly. You can break the cycle by being diligent. Hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful
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