My 5 Year Old Son Lies at Least 5 Times a Day About Serious Things!

Updated on October 07, 2015
G.T. asks from Minidoka, ID
14 answers

My son blames his 3 year old brother about things he does. He lies to his kindergarten teacher, he lies to me everyday at least 5 times or every chance he gets and it hurts me and makes me sad I have tried everything but don't know what else to do. It worries me because when he lies he promises and swears that he is not lying and he looks at me right in my eyes and I can be more 1 hour with him trying to make him tell me the truth and won't do it and what's worst is he doesn't care if I ground him standing on the wall for a while or no TV or no candy or snacks or no tablet or going to the park! He doesn't care at all about the punishments he just lies and lies and lies everyday and it's got to the point where I am really really worried because he is only 5 and has got me in a lot of trouble with my husband and other people for his lying! he doesn't lie about normal things children his age..he doesn't make up cute stories or his imagination and that's why I'm so worried..! He lies like a 15 or even a 18 year old and it scares me! what do I do!!!!!!!

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answers from Los Angeles on

It's normal for 5 year olds to explore the world of lies and truth. Prior to this period, they believed in wishful thinking. Punishment will only make the behavior worse. i suggest a positive parenting class.

The only lying is only going to increase if you punish. He's showing signs of being scared. Stop making it easy for him to lie, and start helping him succeed. he's only 5!

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on


welcome to mamapedia!!

I have a 15 year old son. Are you implying he lies?? Thanks. He is NOT a liar. I'm not sure what 15 and 18 year olds you know - but MINE?? Not a liar. That night have been YOU. But do NOT put that on other people.

You are teaching your son to lie. You are creating situations where he is going to lie to avoid the punishment RIGHT THEN.

Pushing him for one hour?? Hell - if you did that to me? I'd lie to you as well. Girl!!! You need parenting classes. Talk to your pediatrician about local parenting classes...go to the library and borrow books on parenting...

DO NOT get on your FIVE YEAR OLD SON for ONE HOUR about lying. You are forcing the situation and only making it worse. Your son will end up despising you for your antics. Be the role model. Show him how to behave. Give him praise when he tells you the truth. He is FIVE years old.

good luck!!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Most kids lie at some point.

What is bothering me the most about this question is that you are focusing on being "hurt and sad" rather than determined to find a solution using professional resources. The second most troubling thing is that you say this has "got you in a lot of trouble" with your husband! What? Why is this not your husband's problem as much as it is yours? There's something wrong with your perspective here.

You and your husband need consistent discipline here - and perhaps you need some help from a child psychologist to help you prioritize your child's lies and also determine a more effective response to it. Standing and facing a wall does nothing, by the way. If your child needs professional help, get it. Get a referral from the pediatrician. B. ut it doesn't sound to me like you are consistent at all ("I've tried everything" just confuses the child). I think you would benefit greatly from a few sessions with a child development expert who can help you sort out what sorts of fantasies and fabrications are normal for a 5 year old, and what sorts indicate a deeper problem.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

that's a pickle. lying is such a sucky habit, and so distressing. i can hear how worried you are.

but he's only 5, so do keep that in mind. in many ways it seems as if you think he IS 15 or 18 and can reason like an older teen. he can't. he's a very young fellow, and still trying to figure it all out. and btw, older teens don't just lie easily. mine sure didn't.

truthfulness is a habit, and a philosophy. rather than laser focusing on this little fellow's lies, you might start with examining how your family as a whole operates. if you are casual about 'little white lies' you might want to address that. 5 year olds don't get nuance when it comes to honesty. (neither do some 57 year olds, but that's another post.) if he hears you casually 'little white lying' to phone solicitors, or to get out of doing something with someone you're not eager to see, or to get a day off work, or to make (or break) playdates, you're tacitly teaching him to lie.

think less about what punishments to impose for lying and more about setting up his world so that telling the truth is easy and natural, and lying difficult and problematic. don't frown and demand 'did you make that mess in the living room??'

it's almost impossible for a 5 year old NOT to respond that sort of thundercloud with 'no! it was HIM!' and put it off on baby brother.

instead try, 'oh no! the living room is a disaster! we can't have story time until it's cleaned up. come on, let's pitch in together and get it done as quickly as possible.' then as you're picking up the toys, you can casually mention a time when you were a kid and having so much fun you didn't realize what a cyclone you had created. you can invite him into truthfulness with empathy, instead of demanding it with discipline.

and by all the gods and little fishes, no more 'hurt and sad.' he's 5. he's not in charge of your emotions, and it's a terrible burden for parents to lay on the psyches of tiny little people. he should not be able to manipulate your moods, consciously or unconsciously, and even if you ARE so soft and squishy that tiny people can do this to you, you need to project the image of strength and resilience until it becomes real. you need to be calm, and firm, and a place of strength and reliability for him. i know many parents decide it's 'manipulative' of kindergarten age kids to play these games, but i don't see it in the pejorative sense. i see very young people who are not in control of their worlds testing the boundaries, and to their dismay, finding them loose and dangerous. being very young, they keep pushing until they find that solid wall of 'this far and no further' that they desperately need.

give it to him.

but with patience, and understanding, and realizing that a) he's very young and figuring it all out and b) at this point it has become a habit and is very hard to break. this isn't his fault. help him.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Don't put him in situations where you can catch him in a lie.
It's sort of like entrapment.
Instead of "Did you pick up your toys?" you say "Let's go pick up your toys" and you go with him to help/supervise.
How exactly can a 5 yr old get you in trouble with your husband and other people with some fibbing/story telling?
You're giving the child too much power and then coming down hard on him for it when he can't handle it.
Be the adult, own your own actions and let your kids be kids.
In his 5 yr old mind - he might really BELIEVE he's telling you the truth - he can't see things as you do - you're an adult who can't see things as he sees them.
Younger siblings are a pain in the behind especially to the oldest - don't make your 5 yr old responsible for the 3 yr old - give the kids some breathing time away from each other and you have some one on one time with each child.
Stop with the over the top punishments for the fibbing.
He didn't steal a car - he's 5.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita Falls on

What is he lying about?

At that age, dreams can seem so real that they become 'truth' to some kids. Or if he has an active enough imagination, pretend and reality sometimes cross lines. If he is telling wild stories as truth, he may not know the difference. Try the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf and the difference between stories and reality. Explain why the truth is important and each time you catch him in a lie, talk about the consequence of that lie (not just the punishment).

If he is lying about things he is afraid of getting in trouble for (which is normal to happen occasionally), then I would suggest that your punishment system is out of whack. He is more afraid of the punishment (or even possible punishment) than he needs to be. Talk to your pediatrician about revamping your disciplinary system. This will take time to correct.

But if he is telling random lies or lies that try to make him look good and others to look bad, you have a much more serious problem. Look at your own household and your behavior. Are 'little white lies' the norm? Is what he sees and what he hears the same? Make sure he is not emulating behaviors he sees in his environment. Discuss his behavior with your Pediatrician. You may need professional intervention. And the earlier you get it, the easier time you will have of correcting this problem.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I had a liar. Here's what worked for us. I had to figure out why he was lying. So when I caught him in one I said "Now why do you feel the need to lie about this?" (instead of punishing him). Turns out he wanted to be more interesting, funny, exciting, etc. to his friends and family. He did not think he was enough (compared to his outgoing and funny brother, etc.). I think he did it for attention.

Like Suz says, sometimes they are testing limits too. Ours was. He liked when we wouldn't accept his lies. If I did punish, it was more "You can go to your room until you're ready to tell me the truth." (My son would stare blankly when he lied, so it was easy to know if he was).

Good luck :)

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answers from Pittsburgh on

You can punish him. But there is good experimental evidence that this DOES NOT WORK. It does NOT matter how harsh the punishment is, it simply will NOT work. This is true in cultures where the punishment for lying is truly severe (like cutting off a hand) as well as ours with the ridiculous time out approach. So it simply doesn't matter that many posters would like it to work. It DOES NOT.

Please take a look at Po Bronson's book Nurture Shock. I am attaching a link.

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answers from Philadelphia on

How can a 5 yo lie like a "15 or 18 yo"? I have a 17 yo that doesn't lie. She has no reason to lie.

If your son starts to tell a lie and you know it...cut him off and tell him to start over with the truth.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

He's only 5. Check out the link provided by Dana K. I'm wondering what are all these "serious things" that a 5 year old can lie about.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

Sometimes, he may lie because he just wants to please you. If he breaks a vase or any other thing, he may lie about it. It could be because he does not want to upset you.


answers from Williamsport on

At age 5 this is a terrible habit and you have not given him consequences serious enough to stop it. Listing gentle "punishments" like standing at walls and no candy or tablet that had no effect as proof that "punishment doesn't work" will not serve you to fix this problem. I wouldn't have been able to sit down for a week if I sat there and lied to a parent for a straight hour. And the consequence would have come after one warning, not after an hour. Not saying you should drag your kid to the woodshed with a paddle like the bible fearing days of yore..but some serious character issues like lying, respect, aggression, etc need to be handled by whatever means it takes, or you will have a disrespectful, dishonest person for a son. Get tougher. Stay calm, but mean what you say and find a consequence that matters to him. All my kids tried lying and were NEVER given a pass for it during early formative years. Now that they're a little older, we ebb and flow with the fibs, they'll fess up with a gentle warning, and its not so important to crack down because they know how bad lying is and they are very honest. They'll confess difficult things. This result takes FIRM discipline for lying, and praise for telling the truth while they're very young.


answers from Springfield on

find a discipline that works, or when you know he is lying cut him off and ask him to restart the story with the truth.
if a 5 yr old is getting you in trouble then you have a bigger problem with yourself and need to work on that before you try to fix your 5 yr old.


answers from Santa Fe on

That is not right. He is getting into a bad habit that's for sure and it sounds like he's pretty smart too. Give him a timeout for 5 minutes when he lies even if you think he doesn't care. Kids will act like they don't care when they really do. I would go get some kids books to read to him to teach him why he should not lie. Do some research on what books would be good. Personally if it were me I would contact some child psychiatrists and talk to them and get their advice. I once worked with a man who lied all the time...we worked for Fish and Game together out in the field. He lied daily. He lied to make himself look good. He lied about things he had done in his life. He was always getting caught. No one took him seriously and most of the people in the camp did not like him or trust him at all. It was sad because he had no reason to always lie. It was like it was this weird habit. I always wondered what his childhood was like and what his parents had done to try to stop it.

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