My 5 Year Old Is Lying. Need Help.

Updated on November 22, 2009
A.M. asks from Rochelle Park, NJ
11 answers

My 5 year old son has started to lie. We've talked to him until we were blue in the face and he still continues to lie. I've told him a thousand times that the lying will get him into more trouble than what he actually did but nothing is working. We also punish him everytime he does it. I am at my wits end and I dont know what to do anymore. Some advice would be much appreciated.

Thank you.

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answers from Rochester on

What about reading the book "The Boy Who Cried Wolf?" The moral of the story may help him understand why it is wrong to lie. If you tell him you won't know when to believe him, then he will realize it's better to tell the truth. Good luck!

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answers from New York on

It would help to know what he is lying about and what the punishment id for lying.

That being said children lie for various reasons; the need to retain the illusion of goodness, the wish to avoid consequences, a still faulty memory. Here are some things you can do:

1. Don't make it easy for him to tell a lie by asking "did you..." say instead "I saw you..." or "I know you..."

2. Make it easy to tell the truth " I wonder what happened to the cup of juice" instead of " Look what you did, you spilled your juice again".

3. Make telling the truth pay off. Show appreciation and praise for honesty.

4. Don't force your toddler to lie. Too much pressure, too high standards or too severe a punishment can lead a child to lie to avoid the consequences.

5. Don't give your child the 3rd degree by trying to force a confession. Instead, let him know that whatever he did was unacceptable and there is a punishment. If unsure of his guilt don't press it just say "I hope you are telling me the truth but if you are not I'll be very sad"

6. Most inportantly trust your son. If you are trusted than you will be truthful.

7. Be honest with your son as much as possible.

I hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jamestown on

Dear mother, let's sit down and lol--laugh out loud, a little? Sometimes our sense of humor is the only glue left that holds us together, when we feel the need to laugh and cry both at the same time. Having said all of this, the road up ahead might get bumpy before it straightens itself out. Imagine this... A world and a day filled with all truths, as seen by a five-year old. Subject like teeth brushing, bad breath, wearing deodorant, missing cookies, changing underwear etc., they say if you really want to know the truth just ask a five-year old. What would happen when all of their answers are honest? Lol yet? Okay, let's talk about our little white lies... Fairy tales, santa claus, cartoons, etc., somehow i believe that children replicate people, places and things. Many of them are very imaginative, in their world it's what they want it to be magnified to the tenth power. As adults, we realize the consequences of getting caught in a lie. Guess what? We still choose to accept what's passed down to us, even though it's been proven many times over that no stranger is ever going to come down our chimney with gifts. And, native people were already here when christopher columbus "discovered america?" these examples may or may not be a good starting point? See how differcult being honest can be? Now just imagine that we are five-year olds, can we, would we or should we?



answers from New York on

When my stepdaughter was in first grade her teacher complained that she was "fabricating" stories about everyone and everything. I think she was vying for attention. However, one solution that helped a lot was to get her writing stories, poems and to draw pictures. To understand the difference between fiction and fact takes time. Encourage your son to start drawing pictures and help him write down stories (even the lies) and then write variations on them. This might help him understand that adults know the difference between versions of stories, and, how adults filter out fact from fiction. sometimes kids make up things to exhibit their growing power and imagination, and to test the adults in their lives. put that power to creative use, and hopefully the everyday conversation will be more direct.


answers from New York on

Of course he's goign to lie because he's a smart kid. You've shown him that if he tells you the truth you'll get upset and he'll be in big trouble. So in him mind he'd rather take a chance on telling his version of the truth instead of the actual events. I use to call it creative thinking to get out of trouble.

As parents our primary job is to teach children the life skills they need to live in the world; not to harp on negative behavior or punish for every infraction. Your 5 yr old is a big brother so maybe you could find a way to change his behavior for the better so he can set a good example for his younger brother. Set clear cut rules but only have a few of them. If you have 500 rules and regulations then it sets him up for failure. If you have 3-5 that are written out and clear then you've got a plan to succeed.



answers from New York on

I tend to think your son is feeding off of negative attention. Try spending more quality time with him doing stuff he enjoys and communicate more with him as well.



answers from Boston on

Here's a few thoughts.. try and show disappointment rather than anger. Does he have a favorite (must have) blanket or stuffed animal etc.? Take that away each night, if he lies. Also, I'm not sure of your religious background, but we used to say, Santa is listening, and knows when children are lying.. and also, "God is always watching and does not want children to lie". Try to give lots of praise when he does tell the truth.. Keep talking, but make it very short.. I tend to talk way too much to my kids, and I can tell it's overwhelming for them, and they tune me out!
good luck!



answers from New York on

It is human nature to lie when afraid. Lies are always done out of fear. You need to find out what your son fears. It may or may not be the same fear for each lie. Finding out why he is lying is the first step to stopping the behavior. The second step is to make your son feel more secure and that there is no need to fear. You haven't given any examples, so I'm not sure of what the fear could be. It could be a fear of being punished, yelled at, not loved, of the younger boy getting more attention, of failing, of disapointing you, etc.



answers from New York on

Have you tried giving him a taste of his own medicine? In a fun way but showing him how frustrating it is to be lied to. Ask him for something that he will answer yes to, like go to the park or go for ice cream and then when he says yes, don't respond. When he asks why you aren't going just tell him that you didn't know if he was truthful about going for xyz because he lies so much you though he was lying again. Maybe that will turn it around. Sometimes when we mimic our childrens behavior to prove a point, it takes the fun out of them doing it to us.

Good luck.



answers from New York on

Some lies are kids imaginations and should be encouraged instead of punished. Encourage them with a sense of humor and the child will know you dont believe their story, but are going along with it. Example: Boy "I saw an elephant in my bedroom" You "Did it have on pink pajamas?"
Other lies are in response to 'did you' questions so avoid them. You "Did you eat a cookie?" Boy "No." You know he ate the cookie, so instead, say "Boy you ate the cookie before dinner, now you wont get dessert." You avoid the lie by not asking questions. You mentioned the infraction and the consequence in one sentence and the child knows hes busted.
Then there is the lie to avoid punishment. This is one to address with a consequence. Its when he comes to you and blames his brother or the dog or whatever for something he has done, without you asking him. In this case I would sit him in a chair and tell him to think about what he just said. Then when he owns up to the truth thank him for being honest and tell him to try not to do whatever again and let him go without a punishment.
When he does tell the truth. "mom I broke the baby's toy."
try to make the consequence less than you ordinarily would and praise him for being honest.



answers from New York on

Lying is pretty common at this age b/c children are able to predict the consequences for their behaviors. I like what Lisa has suggested below and would just add another idea to that list-

You may want to consider having some set consequences for specific behaviors and have something "additional" if he lies about it. For example, if he takes a toy from his little brother the natural consequence would be to return it to his brother and apologize. If he lies about it, then in addition to the original consequence he would have a time out. There were "two crimes" so there should be consequences associated with each.

I would also give him the opportunity to tell the correct version of the story before investigating. So if he took the toy and said he didn't, I would then remind him of the additional consequence for lying and give him the chance to tell the truth. If he fixes his story, then the original consequence stands, but no additional. I would also make a point to thank him for telling the truth and whether it was the first or second version!

Less talking and more consistent and logical consequences may help!

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