Problems with Lying

Updated on September 16, 2006
J.J. asks from Lone Rock, WI
11 answers

I am having trouble with my 8 year old lying to me. It is not BIG things...just the little things. An example was tonight when I asked her if she had homework and she told me she was done. I checked her bag and she did not do her math homework (I needed to sign this paper). This has been an issue for the past 6 months and I have tried to talk to her about it, but I guess I am not getting through to her. I have taken the TV away, sent her to bed early, and grounded her from playing outside on the days that she lies. She is the sweetest child and is wonderful to have around. Just wondering if anyone else has any suggestions about how to stop the lying.

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So What Happened?

I want to send you all a BIG THANK YOU!!! I plan on trying a few of the ideas that you gave me and hopefully some will work. One idea I did do right away was contacting her teacher and explained what happened. She was wonderful and agreed with me and we are working together on helping my daughter feel that she can tell the truth. I want my daughter to have to deal with the consequence of not doing her homework. Live and Learn...I guess. That is hard to do but I think that will work for her. She really is a GREAT kid and hate to see her doing this. Thanks again for all your advice!!!!

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answers from Minneapolis on

It kind of sounds like she's wanting some attention, no matter if it's negative or possitive. You are probably giving her lots of great attention but it's still not 100% undivided attention like she had for 8 years before the baby came along. She may not even realize that is her problem. The "stress" of having a new baby in the house affects everyone living there and stress does funny things to us. Be patient...maybe set up some special times to take just her out...things like that. Good luck.

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answers from Minneapolis on

The items you've tried are all negative punishment: removing privledges and items from your daughters world when she misbehaves. Some children respond and correct their behavior with this kind of system, but others not.

Some children need positive reinforcement. For example, set up an incentive and reward system for doing her homework. Also give her a reward for honesty. Even if her homework isn't done when you ask, if she answers truthfully she could get a sticker. When she completes her homework, another sticker. Put the stickers up on a "Good behavior" poster and set a number of stickers (10, 20, or whatever is obtainable in an 8yrs eyes) she needs to collect on the Good Behavior poster until she gets something special. Something special could be a saturday afternoon to spend with just mom (baby under dads care), take just your 8yr old to breakfast some morning, or really anything she could look forward to. The important part is she is the focus of the activity and your attention when she cashes in her 20 stickers.

Just my 2 cents. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Hi J.,
We have had this issue and didn't handle it well. I facilitate workshops on teaching our values to our children and have some thoughts on honesty. It's an hour workshop but let me give you some bulletpoints and you can contact me for more if you are interested.

Children lie because they don't want to disappoint us or because they are afraid of consequences. Your child, at 8, can understand that lying is wrong.

Would you be willing to switch your approach to rewarding honesty and not punishing lying? Not ignoring but talking about the importance of honesty and then rewarding it every time your child experiences it. It's awesome that you are teaching this now when the stakes are homework and not when she is older and those stakes get dangerously higher!

I have a 15-year old daughter who went through the very same thing at that age (and younger) and the mistake I made was not providing her with a safe environment where she could tell the truth. Of course you are angry when they lie but you have to look at the big picture and see that they need to be able to tell you when they make mistakes (think: call me to drive them home from a party where there has been drinking).

My opinion is that we have to teach what we want to see (proactive) - not assume they are just picking it up through osmosis. Lots of time, we as parents, think our job is to discipline only (reactive).

Here are some quick tips:
1. Make sure you are always honest. Even asking a child to tell Grandma that mommy can't come to phone right now (just and example) or other "white lies" can show that your committment to honesty is conditional.

2. Don't ask questions you already know the answer to. This is HARD but it is setting your child up to lie. Maybe instead of "do you have any homework?" it's "let's look at your homework".

3. Be careful not to label. None of us want to or try to do this but it's frustrating to be lied to again and again. No - "you lied before so how can I believe you now". Take it from someone who learned the hard way.

4. If you think your child is telling an untruth, stop them and remind them how important it is to tell the truth. When they tell the truth, commend them for their honesty even though it was probably really hard.

5. Look for examples on TV or in books of when someone has not told the truth and ask your child to explain what happened. Do the reverse with honesty. "How do you think they felt when they told the truth?" Kids have to EXPERIENCE to learn. Hands on as much as possible.

If punitive consequences aren't working - I say stop them immediately. You are losing authority. All kids have a "currency" and your daughter's is not priveledges. I have one who could be grounded from everything and she would care less. Her currency is words of affirmation. She likes to be respected and told how mature she is etc. etc. This kid could care less for a sticker chart (rewards) either but that may work for your daughter. Telling the truth earns a sticker or check mark and, at the end of a set time, she gets to pick an activity to do just with mom - no little sister.

OK, this is so long but hope you got some insight. Let me know if you have thoughts, questions. I wish you luck and I wish your daughter success.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on


My 8, almost 9 year old girl does this too. It got worse after I started dating again. She started it a year ago when I went from staying a basically at home mom in Wisconsin to moving to St. Paul and working full time. I do not know if it was the move or the job change, but she lied about doing home work, brushing her teeth, cleaning her room, you name it. This year she is in 3rd grade and her lying about homework is catching up with her. She told me that her teacher kept giving her zero's because there were too many eraser marks on her papers. She and her daycare told me that her homework was done, so I never checked it. I now know better. When she tells me her homework is done, I ask if I can check it, and if she is lying to me she gets grounded for the evening, NO toys or TV. Your post is actually going to help me too, THANK YOU for asking the question!!

Good Luck

H. L

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answers from Sheboygan on

my daughter does the same thing and her age is 9 almost 10.. i agree with the writing i wont lie or i will tell the truth.. i also agree with stickers... use both if needed.. that way she feels she really working for somefin... every kid is diff and they respond diff.. i always tell my daughter its not nice to lie and ask her how she would feel if i lied to her.. and normally she tells me she wouldnt like it.. i then tell her well i dont like you lieing to me.. and explain that if she dont do her homework she gets an f or a detention.. normally that scares my daughter.... well good luck..



answers from Milwaukee on

I think I can help, not because I have a lying 8 year old, but because I was one... with a brand new baby brother. (sound familiar?) Your daughter may not resent the new baby and she may in fact love him and be affectionate towards him. Its not a problem of a new family member, its the loss of old ones... now mom and dad have something else to focus their attention on too. I could go into more detail on this, but your problem is her lying. Let's focus on that. She is more than likely lying for two reasons, one is for attention and two is to see how much she can get away with now. You probably aren't catching her in every lie because they are starting out small, but every one she gets away with is sort of like a victory and either she thinks that they can get away with bigger things or she thinks that the reason she didnt get caught is because you were too busy with baby to realize it. Right now though yelling is ultimately inefficient because she probably doesnt even know why she lied about it right away. What my mother did was made me feel guilty, she told me that she used to have so much trust in me and that she was disappointed. Even though I didn't openly show it, that made me feel bad because it showed me that my mom did still care and to not have her approval so to speak was difficult. What would also be really effective in addition to that is to tell her that if she goes a week without telling a lie that you and her will do something extra special like go out to dinner together or go shopping or something. Make sure you are not making your time and attention an ultimatum though, make sure she knows that you will still be around and there for her, but if she lies you won't do a special activity NOT that you are going to take away your presense. Also don't give her opportunity to lie, you shouldn't ask her if she is jealous of her brother or if she is mad that mom and dad are busy sometimes with the baby, because in those circumstances she will probably lie to avoid conflict or telling you some of her tough feelings. You should just assume that it is that that is bothering her and make yourself really open in case she does want to come to you with what is bothering her and make sure to keep an open mind if she does. If you have any other questions please feel free to ask me.



answers from Minneapolis on

My 6 year old niece did this this past summer that I babysat for her.

I finally got her to pull the plug on it, when I had her write on a piece of paper.. however many times you want (try 5 times her age)..


Try that. I know different kids respond to different things.



answers from Milwaukee on

I had a similar problem with my now 14 year old about 6 years ago. He would not finish his homework. I would ask, but my son wouldn't lie to me (so I thought) so I let it go. Until I started recieved notices from school about late/missing assignments. I tried yelling. I tried grounding. I almost tried bribing (notice I said almost). I took EVERYTHING AWAY from him. Nothing seemed to help. Then one day I had an epiphone! I realized that everything I was doing WASN'T working. So I reversed the order of things. I still took everything he thought was important away. I gave him a chore to do that he hated (dishes). The way it worked was this:

IF he didn't have a late/missing assignment for 1 week he got ________ back (1 item). Same for the next and the next and the next until all the taken away items have been returned. The last week's reward was that he didn't have to do the dishes anymore.

IF at any point he had a late assignment the cycle started all over again. He lost all the items and had to resume dishes.

I have to tell you it worked beautifully. From the moment I started, I never saw another missing assignment slip again. Just the threat of doing it again makes him straighten up.



answers from Sheboygan on

I agree with the responses... here is what I use to tell parents when I was a guidance counselor... try natural consequences!! Call her teacher in the morning and leave a message explaining that your daughter told you her homework was done, when it was really not. Tell the teacher you want her to learn that she is responsible for her actions. Hopefully, with teachers help, when your daughter is to turn in her homework she will feel awful about not getting it done and getting a zero.
I am a BIG believer on natural consequences. Kids need to learn that they are responsible for their actions. I agree also that stickers and incentives help, but there are times in life when we don't get stickers for our actions (as though as an adult I wish we did!! I still love stickers!!)
just my thoughts...



answers from Minneapolis on

I must say that the previous poster had a great plan of action. I am wondering though if it has anything to do with your new baby. I sounds like it started right around the time that the baby was born. I know kids can have a hard time transitioning to a new baby, especially when they are older kids. Could she be looking for attention or even trying to steal your attention from the baby? I don't know, just a suggestion. Does she like the baby? Maybe you could let her help with the baby or help feed the baby once her homework is done or something.
Hope it works out for you,



answers from Milwaukee on

You need to get to the root of the problem - WHY is she lying. It sounds like she is trying to get your attention. I don't think punishing her is going to make the problem go away. When I was a teenager, I was shuffled from parent's house to house. And no one paid a lot of attention to me, so I lied about stupid things to get attention. Getting grounded didn't solve the problem. I think your daughter doesn't feel she is getting enough time from you. Is there anyway you can set aside 30 minutes a day that is just for her?? Try that and see what happens!

Good luck!!

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