Children lying, is that a problem?

Is this a lie?

children lying

It’s an ongoing discussion among educators and parents how to deal with children lying. Some see it as as children’s imagination or want for fantasy while others feel children should not go ahead making up stories.

It is a hot and heavy discussion, how to deal with lying. However it is important to know the differences and understand where lying is coming from.

There are many ages and stages to lying and different times to be concerned and times to just to letting it pass.

Let us take a look how lying will look differently for each age group and then we can take a look how to interpret lying without freaking out that your child/ student lied:

Children lying:

2-4 Age Group – Toddlers and Preschoolers little lies:

When a child is young, such as 2 to 3 years of age their lying may just reflect their feelings. If you ask them: “Did you break this?”  their response might be “no”, as in I did not want to do it rather than no I did not break it. You might notice them lying in order for them to benefit something such as fear of your anger or punishment.

” Did you take my ring?”  children very likely might just respond no for it easier to say that than to deal with our anger or punishment.

Young children generally do not know the difference between truth and fiction.

Toddlers are too young to be punished for lying yet they are not to young to be educated about lying! You can gently point out to them- ” I see you are holding my ring.. seems like you took it.” However do not spend too much time on what had occurred and move on.

Preschoolers enjoy living in the world of make believe. At times their lies reflect their fantasy and imagination. It is important to realize that to them it is not always a lie. It is something that feels real and factual.

5 year old children can have make believe friends or siblings. ” My friend, Bella was punished today because she took away my teachers book.” This is something that the child dreamed of and it seemingly is not a lie to her. This is the age where their imagination is hard at work and helps children develop skills and creativity. There should not be much of a concern if your child likes to immerse themselves in wishful thinking.

5-8 Age Group- School-age lies

This is the age group where you can find children saying white lies to either cover up for a friends, avoid embarrassment or punishment.

It is important to realize and understand why children are lying in this age group. It likely is because they are having social or school difficulties that can be helped out with.

At this age, children understand that lying is not right and you can slowly educate them about the importance of saying the truth. Punishing them for the lie will not help the situation that they were caught lying about. Be sure to check the underlying factor as to what prompted them to lie.

Tweens- White lies and big lies:

Occasional lies are not unusual for children this age. They usually lie for the same reason adults do, to gain something or get away with something they did.

This is the age group where you should lead by example and show children it is not OK to lie.


So now you caught your child or student lying-

What can you do to prevent lies?

  1. consider age– remember if they are currently living in the fantasy world, leave them be!
  2. why are they lying- what is the underlying reason? At times you help the situation you can prevent lying ( such as a child saying they do not have homework because they do not know know how to do it)
  3. be a role model
  4. allow children to tell the truth without punishing in the heat of the moment- make it safe to tell the truth
  • Remember children lying is not the end of the world- how you deal with it can be!