Punishment for Lying After Doing Something They KNOW Better than to Do!!

Updated on July 14, 2011
R.D. asks from Richmond, VA
14 answers

Just caught my (almost angels) in lies. Both of my daughters, ages almost 6 and 7. They're GREAT kids and I never ever have this issue with them, but right now I'm PISSED because 1, they lied, and 2, the thing they did, they KNOW better than that!!

They're cleaning their room, so I popped in to lend a hand while the baby's sleeping. Someone colored inside of EVERY SINGLE BIN (the kind on a rack, to hold toys and stuff). I was like 'Um, who did this?'... they both shot each other an 'oh sh!t' look, so I already knew, but I asked again, 'Who colored inside of these bins?'... The almost 6 year old gave her standard response that makes me FURIOUS, 'I don't know'... the 7 year old tried to blame her sister. I could tell by the looks on their faces that they were both guilty.

Long story short, they both finally admitted to it, and I made them clean it up, which is ALL I would have done had they told the truth in the first place. Then I made them write 10x each 'I will not lie. Lying is naughty'. Now they're in there cleaning (when really, I'd love to go in there and just throw everything out!!)

Lying will NOT be tolerated. I feel like there's something more to be done as punishment, but I'm still pretty mad and don't want to totally over react. What else should be done? What's EFFECTIVE?

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answers from Dallas on

I hate lying too. My pet peeve, but you have already imposed a reasonable consequence. They know you are upset. I think anything more would be over the top.

If they do it again then impose another reasonable consequence..... you're doing great!

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answers from New York on

Well, writing 10x is not effective but explaining to them is short-simple terms "why" lying is naughty and letting them know what will happen next time is!

Lying is naughty because it means that mommy can't believe what you tell me about things. If you lie to me again, you will not be allowed to (pick something that they really like) for (reasonable period of time). Do you understand? Okay, tell me in your words what I just said to you.

My mother used to tell us (and it's very true)... "If you did ___ you will be in trouble. If you lie to me about it, the punishment is doubled b/c you are in trouble AND lying. Here's your one chance to tell me exactly what happened."

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answers from Bloomington on

I am trying really hard to make the punishment fit the crime. You made them clean it up, that takes care of the coloring. You made them write 'I will not lie. Lying is naughty', that takes care of the lying. I know you're pissed and I have so been there, today in fact! Let yourself cool off a little and see how they act this evening before making a decision about it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

It can be really hard not to lie, and adults do it all the time. I have, as recently as a couple of days ago, lied to keep my mother from feeling bad. I'm sure I could think of more examples of my own if I spend only a few minutes pondering.

Before you decide how much and what kind of energy to put into punishing your girls, I hope you will read this most enlightening article on why kids lie (http://nymag.com/news/features/43893/). It's not great to lie, of course, but if you look at the example you have from your children's point of view, it may be that they were unexpectedly cornered into admitting a 'crime' that was, at the time it was committed, not a crime at all. In their minds, they may have been having fun during a boring day decorating the inside (not even the outside) of bins that belong to them.

Why, in a child's mind, would that necessarily be wrong? Where's the harm? It doesn't meet your aesthetic standards, but would they have a way to know that ahead of time? But then, big surprise, they found out it pisses you off. They didn't know you'd be pissed, and they want you desperately not to be pissed, and they don't want to be in trouble. And of course they did it, so why would you even have to ask? The very first thing that pops out under that stress is "I don't know," while their little brains are helplessly sorting through everything else they might say. It's only when you become additiionally enraged at their lame distancing that they realize there's nothing left to do but 'fess up.

I can recall being in that position a hundred times or more with my own mother. She had expectations that I discovered the hard way, by violating them. They were unspoken until then. Each time, I remember feeling a huge collapse of any hope that I could please my mother or avoid the inevitable, shaming lecture/spanking/lecture/grounding to room.

Her punishments, looking back, were really over the top, and they were somehow about her, not about me. (Even at the time, I was always shocked by how strong her reactions were.) My choices, my "disobedience," and my consequent desperate lie were a sign, in her mind, that she was failing as a mother, and she couldn't stand that. So she punished, corrected, and expected cheerful, honest compliance from kids who were too cowed and skittish, too anxious and defensive, to be able to give her what she needed.

I'm giving a full a picture of what's wrong with that dynamic, not because I think you will necessarily be that way with your own kids, R., but so that you might get a sense of why you felt so angry about this normal childhood occurence. I hope you'll consider that alternate approaches to correction can be just as effective, and NOT corner your kids into feeling they have nothing but an impotent "I don't know" to offer in their own defense.

A far better approach is to observe what happened, and give your expectation that it be corrected, and give some time for that to happen. "Oh, no, I'm unhappy that your bins have been colored in. I expect that to be cleaned out within the hour. Come and ask if you need help figuring out how to clean them. If you want to decorate your room in the future, please talk to me first." And then be sure they have coloring materials, art pads, whatever, for their ongoing artwork.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I think you've got the punishment under control and out of the way. Now you need to explain to them in very very simple terms why lying is dangerous.
If they lie to you that could mean you won't trust what they say in the future, and then when they need you to help them, or are in trouble you won't believe them. Lying hurts trust.

Best wishes-

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

All others please don't write me about how I choose to discipline my children. Thank you.

In my house there are only 2 reasons you will definitely get a spanking. One is lying and two is defiance.

Understand chldren are going to lie and/or worse at some point or another. It comes with the territory. As the parent it is our job to know what is effective for which kid and what measure of punishment or discipline we are going to dish out to them. I have raised 4 and am raising 3. I also did youth group and children's church so I have had many experiences with children.

I also must confess that I used to be a pathological lyer. I lied about everything and nothing. I lied because I was bored but in the case of your children I would have lied too. I lied under those circumstances to try to get out of punishment, to try to have my own way, to try to let someone else take the fall for my actions. I would do those things I just KNEW I was not supposed to do because I could, or to see if I could get away with it, or because I hadn't really thought things through and anything else you can think of. I stopped all the lies when they became too much for me and the truth was so much easier just like staying out of trouble was easier than remembering the lies I had told. Also the spankings I received from my mother were also another factor in my thought process to get me out of the trap of my seemingly insatiable need to lie.

I hope this was helpful but long story short. You know what is most effective for each of your girls because you have spent time with them and have studied them. They will change along the way and you will need to modify how you discipline and/or punish them but keep on working with them. My mother never gave up on me and I'm a pretty decent adult.

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answers from Chicago on

Why were you so hellbent on making them confess? You saw the bins were colored in, the bins were in the kids' room, who else would have done it? Your husband? No, you said yourself that you knew it was them - so why not just make them clean it up without the big stink about lying?

I think they lied to you because they know you overreact. They didn't want to get into trouble. That's normal for a kid. They could tell mom was getting mad and the kids (wrongly) thought that denying the coloring would make you less mad.

If your kids know you get pissed off over little things (and yes, coloring on bins is little stuff) - they will never feel comfortable coming to you to talk about the major stuff.

What I think you need to do is have a family discussion about telling the truth. And what it means to tell the truth. Telling the truth might not always get them out of trouble, but telling the truth is the right thing to do.

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answers from Cleveland on

I think you did all you can do. Lying is wrong but you are right, they knew not to color the bins but they made a choice to do so anyways. Even adults have a hard time saying, yup i know it was wrong but i did it anyways. I rarely punish my kids for things UNLESS they lie. Like you i would have made them help clean the bins and been done with it. Stuff like that happens, they are kids. And like you the lying ticks me off. My kids are a little older 8-11 (cause the baby can't lie to me yet, lol) and in your case I would have A. taken the crayons, if they can't use them correctly they can use them with supervision. B. made them clean the bins

My 10 year old likes to say he put his clothes away, and not actually do it, but tell me he did. I started taking his clothes. He was really confused for awhile, and then really annoyed when he had nothing to wear. He confessed, apologized and his clothes are ALWAYS put away.

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answers from Phoenix on

I agree. Lying makes me so mad too. You can clean up marker but it's hard to gain trust. Your discipline is great. You can also sit down and talk to them about lying. Tell them that it would have been better to admit what they did in the very beginning. You can tell them that they would have had to clean it up had they admitted it but they wouldn't have had to write the sentences. You can also ground them from TV or whatever for a day. Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I have learned to not get angry about this, because it's human nature to want to avoid getting in trouble with your parents (how many of us liked that?).

What I've done with my sons, and it has worked, is to not make it "profitable" to lie. As another mom suggested, a lie earns a double punishment - one for the wrongdoing and the other for covering it up. I do this without emotion whatsoever. It's just matter-of-fact.

My reasoning, and I have explained this from our religious perspective, is that the devil loves lies. When you lie your parents can't correct you and "save you from yourself" essentially - something the Bible admonishes parents to do. Discipline comes from the word "disciple" which means to lovingly teach and instruct. It has to come from a place of love.

I'm not saying my kids will never lie to me but we truly don't have a problem with it and haven't in a long time (mine are 17 & 14 - where trust is very critical). Again, they could humble me and do it so I"m praying they don't, for their own good.

Good luck, and try to not take it personally.

PS: I really liked Peg M.'s comments too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think writing I will not lie is effective...some people don't think so..but really....it sinks in after a while...

Making them clean up their mess is another good thing to do as well.

I would also reiterate to them that IF they had told the truth from the beginning - they would've ONLY had to clean it up and NOT write...

Explain that lying brings a trust level down and mommy NEEDS to be able to trust them!!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think you did good. I make sure to always remind my kids that the punishment for lying will be SO much worse than telling the truth and getting in trouble for whatever they did that was wrong. That normally gets them to tell the truth, because like you said, a lot of times we know before they say it. I think kids get in a mode where they want to make us happy even though they know they did something wrong, so that's why they lie. I think you did fine here though and I'd just have a calm chat with them later about why lying is so wrong. I'm a stickler for the lies too!



answers from Youngstown on

We had a big problem with my daughter (now age 5 1/2) lying about year ago. My sister in law suggested a punishment that has worked wonders. I put a little bit of vinegar on a paper towel and wipe her tongue with it. Just a quick swipe. We then talk about how lying leaves a nasty taste in our mouths and she should never do it. No one wants a nasty taste in their mouth. It worked wonders. My daughter was lying constantly and after we started the vinegar she stopped almost immediately. In the past year we have only had to use the vinegar about 4-5 times.


answers from Kalamazoo on

I think you did great.
I make my kids write sentences for stuff like that too. I feel the same about lying, but it's going to still happen a few times - they are only 6 and 7. Wait until you calm down and have another serious talk with them about lying. Tell them that next time will be worse, consider this their one and only "warning" if this was kinda the first big time. Next time, toys/privelages will be taken away in addition to this punishment.

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