Why Kids Lie?


Children lie, some more often than others and for a variety of reasons. The question for us grown-ups is what should a parent do when a child lies?

Lying is not a behaviour that deserves reward, the first lie our child tells however deserves a little celebration as it marks a very important milestone in their development.

Around 2 to 3 years of life, every child realizes that his/her self, mind, knowledge and thoughts are his/her own, personal and different from those of other people. So he easily comes to the conclusion that he can "fool" mom by telling her something that is not true.


The academic developmental psychologist A. Demetriou argues that the first lie your child tells you is an event that should make you very happy since it proves that your offspring has mastered the "theory of mind", the ability to separate their own cognition from that of others.

Basic life skills can arise with the commencement of lying, include

  • decision-making skills,
  • moral understanding and
  • interpersonal skills.

So understanding that lying is a normal part of a child's development helps us to redefine the way we see it.


However, while lying is a typical behaviour, there are some strategies you can use to minimise it and encourage honesty.

If our child lies to us it feels frustrating and potentially makes us angry. If we want to help our child to stop lying we need to look for the reason behind their need to lie to us.

3 Reasons That Kids Lie

Avoiding Consequences or Punishment

Our children may lie to us to escape punishment or scolding for something they did. If there is no gain from telling the truth and the consequences are severe, children may learn to lie to avoid dealing with the consequences.

Curiosity and Testing Boundaries

Lying can express our children's need to test different ideas and boundaries. For example, they may think "what if I lie?" or "what if I say this when it's not true?" They may also lie to try to refute ideas or situations that are not the way they would like them to be.

Strengthening Self-esteem and Acceptance

Lack of self-confidence can lead children to lie in an attempt to find ways to feel better about themselves and impress those around them.


What Age Do Kids Start Lying?

Recent research has found that most children learn to lie effectively between the ages of 2 and 4.

The first successful lie can be classified as a developmental achievement because it marks the child's discovery that his/her thinking process is separate from that of the parents.


5 Ways To Confront A Child or Teen When He/She Is Lying

Have conversations about lies and truth with your children.

Talk to them and read stories about the value of truth and the trouble lies get them into. "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" is a favourite classic tale that you can read together.

Help your child avoid situations where they feel the need to lie.

If your child is lying, it may be because he or she is afraid to tell you the truth. Try to use your behavior to get him to trust you even when he has done something wrong. Don't get too angry with him and don't overdo it with punishments. Remind him that you love him and will always love him no matter what he tells you and no matter what he has done.

Praise your child for admitting his mistake

Of course, if your child admits a mistake, praise him or her for having the courage to tell you the truth and lessen the burden of the consequences a little so that he or she can actually understand the value of truth.

Become a role model for telling the truth.

Our children watch us all the time and learn more from us while we are not talking to them than when we are trying to teach them lessons. Don't lie either. If your child sees that you are telling the truth even in difficult times they will try to imitate you.

Use a joke to encourage your child to accept a lie.

If you want to help your child to admit something difficult to say, lighten the mood with a joke. This way you will show him that not everything is as tragic as he may have imagined.


When we want to help our children change a certain behaviour it is recommended to step into their shoes.  This way it is easier to remember how we felt when we were kids and it is easier to understand them instead of labelling or punishing them.  

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