• Liar, liar, pants on fire! Why children tell lies

    liar liar pants fire children tell lies

    Let’s face it we all tell little white lies now and then. Whether it is to protect our children or not to harm someone else’s feelings – we do it.

    But what happens if the lies are constant … more like compulsive lying.

    Even worse what if it’s a child that is constantly lying about everything and anything. You would assume that children are naturally truthful. Well so you would think, turns out it is not the case.

    Today my daughter came home from school pretty devastated. She and her friends are at wits end with one particular friend’s lies.

    So when your child comes home and vents her anger and frustration about the current situation – you listen.

    This 12 year old friend has been lying profusely and making up overdramatic fabricated stories about her life. According to my daughter they have been tolerating it for months now.  But today, one of the friends called her out on her lies and she denied it.  And this has now placed a damper on the friendship.

    At this age, friendships are extremely precious. It’s a time when children, especially girls take their relationships with friends seriously. They discover the value of loyalty; and when one friend constantly lies; feelings of betrayal and distrust start to surface. It’s obvious that these lies are making my daughter and the other friends uncomfortable. They are now doubting everything that she says and feels that this girl is not respecting their integrity.

    The spate of lies has become worrisome. In fact, threats has been issues to tell her parents and teacher.  But on the other hand, they also don’t want to lose her friendship by telling on.

    After listening, I then gave my daughter advice without bad mouthing the friend in question.

    My position had to be neutral as this was not my friendship but hers. We spoke about how this deception is making her feel and I acknowledged that she is hurting. My daughter is a bit of a sensitive soul and I made her understand that at no point is her friend’s behaviour her fault and not to take it personally. Then I advised her to speak to this friend and tell her exactly how her not telling the truth is making everyone feel.

    To make her understand the importance of being truthful and trustworthy. That her friendship means a lot to them but that friends don’t lie to friends.  Avoid labeling and judging her as she will feel rejected.  Should she own up and feel embarrassed about her behaviour; forgive her for her actions and reassure her that it is all forgotten so that all parties can move on.

    I also told my daughter to use her own discretion if the girl purposefully continues with her lies and deceit. That my daughter has every right to end the friendship if she feels that this friend is undermining the relationship; if the relationship becomes toxic and this friend does not want to take responsibility for her behaviour.  Somehow there must be consequences for her behaviour. At the end, I want my child to learn how to deal with problem solving and relationship issues in the future.

    Whether this was the correct advice I gave, I don’t know but I trust that my daughter will execute it.

    Which made me think; from what age do kids start lying and why do they tell lies?

    There are different age categories when kids start learning how to tell lies. As kids start developing cognitive and social skills they learn when it’s appropriate to lie and how to lie convincingly.

    Preschool age (2 – 4 years) – kids can’t yet differentiate between fantasy and reality. They have an active imagination so will tell tall tales. Lies are told to deny any wrong doing.

    School age (5 – 8 years) – kids tell lies to test what they can get away with. They lie to bend the rules, to avoid punishment or to gain attention.

    Tweens (9 – 12 years) – they can reason between what is false and true. Lies become constant and convincing once they establish that they get a reaction from it. Stories take on a form of exaggeration. Low self-esteem and wanting to be socially accepted can also spark a habit of lying.

    Teenagers (13 – 16) – at this stage lies start taking on greater significance. It occurs frequently and consciously. They start lying due to peer pressure or to gain social power.

    The root of why kids are telling lies need to be established. Then interventions need to be put in place to correct this behaviour. The truth is, if nothing is being done about these lies, it will continue and lead to cheating and stealing.

    What is your view on this and what will you do in this situation? Should the parents and teacher be informed? Please feel free to comment.



    1. June 21, 2018 / 1:35 pm

      Excellent advice. Hopefully they’ll be able to sort things out between each other. If your daughter was a little older, it might also be worth asking her friend why she keeps making stuff up that her listeners know isn’t true in case there are other more serious issues behind it. As you say, it can be a form of attention seeking and a sign of low self esteem

      • Noleen Miller
        June 21, 2018 / 1:39 pm

        I hope so too. Well they have called her out on it and they definitely know that these stories are not true. I wonder if the parents are aware of it, I would surely want to know if my child is constantly telling lies. There is definitely an underlying problem there. Just hope it is brought to the attention of the parents so that it can be sorted out.

    2. June 21, 2018 / 6:08 pm

      really interesting read and talking it through with your daughter is such a good idea. thanks for sharing #stayclassymama

      • Noleen Miller
        June 22, 2018 / 10:00 am

        I always welcome it when they are open to talk to me about issues that is bothering them. Hoping that this problem can be sorted #stayclassymama

        • Noleen Miller
          June 26, 2018 / 8:54 am

          Yes – our kids must feel free to talk to us about things that are bothering them. I encourage that a lot. Well it’s mid-year holiday now and the friend is at school – so when they return I am keen to find out if the issue has been resolved or if the lying is continuing #stayclassymama

    3. June 22, 2018 / 9:56 am

      I believe the teacher and parent should be informed. Often hyper-imaginative kids cook up stories but they should not resort to compulsive lying. #blogcrush

      • Noleen Miller
        June 22, 2018 / 9:58 am

        My thoughts exactly. Just hope that there will be some interventions as it could get out of hand #blogcrush

    4. June 22, 2018 / 9:00 pm

      What a great listener and sage advice giver you are! I want your list to continue down in age groups so I can understand a lot more about some adults… Thank you! #stayclassymama xo

      • Noleen Miller
        June 26, 2018 / 8:51 am

        Thank you – well I suppose it starts young and just continue into adulthood – by then it is just out of control #stayclassymama

    5. June 23, 2018 / 8:25 pm

      What great advice given in this post #BlogCrush

      • Noleen Miller
        June 26, 2018 / 8:50 am

        Thank you #blogcrush

      • Noleen Miller
        June 26, 2018 / 8:49 am

        Thank you #globalblogging

    6. June 25, 2018 / 12:09 pm

      Hard one to deal with … has to be weighed up. Hopefully the child’s one parents will intervene. Be good to find out why children lie at an abnormal level #GlobablBlogging

      • Noleen Miller
        June 26, 2018 / 8:49 am

        It is indeed a difficult one to deal with. At that age to be a compulsive liar – means there must be underlying problems. Hope this behaviour corrects itself with the necessary interventions #globalblogging

    7. June 25, 2018 / 9:43 pm

      #GlobalBlogging I aspire to your way of parenting. I love the way you have a sit down conversation about the issue. Hopefully things work themselves out. As for the lying. My 5 year old is already trying it on here and there! Sometimes its hard to work out what’s truth and what’s not.

      • Noleen Miller
        June 26, 2018 / 8:58 am

        Thanks. I think it’s important that our children have that freedom to come to us and talk about issues that is bothering them. I encourage that they come and talk to keep that line of communication open. I’m hoping that this matter can be sorted. W.r.t your daughter – is she not still in the phase where she can’t differentiate between what is fantasy and reality. Try and encourage truth telling all the time and correct her when she is telling a fib. Also let her know that trust is built on honesty #globalblogging

    8. June 26, 2018 / 8:48 pm

      I hate lying. My daughter went through a period of lying last year but she is still young enough for us to see through it. We were very strict with her and told her that we would always prefer her to own up to something instead of lying to cover her tracks. It’s a difficult one, though, and something that, even as adults, we can be tempted to do in order to save our skin! #blogcrush

      • Noleen Miller
        June 27, 2018 / 6:54 pm

        I think they go through a phase but it is up to us as parents to correct it. If we don’t and it continues for years then it is a habit that is very difficult to unlearn #blogcrush

    9. June 26, 2018 / 10:31 pm

      My children all learned lying early (before 2!): apparently it is a sign of intelligence! I have tried to impress on them the importance of telling the truth even if they are worried about getting into trouble. Thanks for linking up with #stayclassymama

      • Noleen Miller
        June 27, 2018 / 6:52 pm

        Apparently it is a sign of intelligence. It’s important that we intervene before telling lies becomes a habit. We need to make them understand that being truthful is an important value and that it creates trust #stayclassymama

    10. June 27, 2018 / 11:12 am

      Sound advice you gave your daughter. My son is nearly 6 and I think he is definitely being imaginative and manipulating the truth to see how much he can get away with. Thank you for joining in with #stayclassymama

      • Noleen Miller
        June 27, 2018 / 6:49 pm

        Thanks. Yes at that age he is still very much believing in fantasy and will test his boundaries by exploring with tall tales and fibs. It’s important that he knows that tell the truth is very important no matter whether he is in trouble #stayclassymama

    11. June 27, 2018 / 8:58 pm

      Well, I think you gave the right advice. Your child needs to know that it’s not OK to tell lies and that she is in charge of her own friendships… However, my concern for the little girl that feels the need to lie so much, is quite high. Maybe there is a deeper issue here, maybe it is a cry for help, maybe this child feels that she needs to lie in order to be noticed or have friends. That she has something she needs to live up to. Maybe her life at home is hard? It’s hard, but I think this child needs a loving ear. I hope her teacher can help her in some way.

    12. July 2, 2018 / 4:43 am

      I absolutely love that you listen and empower your daughter with the tools to reason through this problem and decide on the solution for her. As you said, it’s her friendship not yours. So many parents want to ‘fix it’ but your method of listening will allow your daughter to handle problems as life throws them at her. Bravo for the excellent example! #GlobalBlogging

      • Noleen Miller
        July 2, 2018 / 7:49 pm

        Thanks Heather, I think we need to teach our children how to solve their own problems. You are so right, there are times when we want to fix things for them but what does that teach them. As they grow they will learn about all kinds of relationships – some will be good and some will be testing #globalblogging

    13. October 31, 2018 / 3:13 pm

      Brilliant advice in this post, Noleen. Admire that you didn’t jump in and ‘fix’ the problem for your daughter; but instead listened and advised and helped her see the situation for herself – you’re right, at some point we’ve got to stop doing things for our kids and just guide them, so they learn to deal with life themselves. Hope the issue is resolved soon. Thanks for sharing this lovely post with #itsok

    14. November 3, 2018 / 10:16 am

      This is a good post for me atm as my middle child is testing the water with fibs lately. He’s 5. My eldest daughter went through this at a similar age, and we’ve been careful to stress that if you lie, people don’t trust you and it makes them feel horrible to be lied to. Such a tricky subject to tackle. Thanks for posting xx #ItsOK

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