Children commonly lie to try to escape punishment. Hence the saying, "Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies." These are called self- protective lies. During the first 5 or 6 years of life, children go through a normal phase of trying to cover-up by lying. They stop lying when they learn it doesn't convince anyone. Here are some tips for handling lying:
- First: Punish your child based on the available evidence. For example, if a dish is broken and your child has just been in the kitchen, you don't need Sherlock Holmes. Don't ask your child what happened, when you already know what he did. Children aren't good at confessing.
- Second: For misbehavior without any evidence (for example, you think your child watched a TV show you told her not to), overlook it. Trying to investigate it will just bring you grief.
- Third: When you confront your child about misbehavior and she spontaneously denies she had anything to do with it, show your disapproval. Tell her, "I really feel badly when you lie to me and I hope you'll tell me the truth next time." Then give her a double time-out if she lies compared to the amount of time she has to spend there if she doesn't lie (i.e., 2 minutes per year of age instead of 1).
- Finally: Don't try to catch your child in a lie or make her confess. These just lead to bigger and better lies.
If you have other questions about lying, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.