Why Kids Lie and What to Do About It

Think of the last time you told a lie. Were you afraid of what would happen if you told the truth? Worried how the other person would react? Did you want to avoid getting into trouble? These are the most common reasons people lie, and your children are no different. Not sure if your child's lies are their imagination at work or a potential problem? Read this guide to learn the difference. Click To Tweet

Why Kids Lie

Kids lie to gain something or to keep themselves from being the focus of anger. As they get older, the reasons they lie with change, but very young children haven’t learned enough to be sophisticated liars.


Children as young as 2 or 3 will often begin to tell self-serving fibs in order to gain something or avoid punishment for breaking a rule. For example, you might ask your toddler if they have a dirty diaper and they deny it, simply to avoid a diaper change. A good strategy is to avoid a showdown, and instead of angry accusations, simply state the matter as fact. “I think you have a dirty diaper and if I don’t change you it might give you a rash.” A child at this age is simply not equipped to understand the motives behind their lies, so hounding them will only cause more problems

Preschoolers & Kindergarten

As kids get older, their imaginations really start to take hold. They may make up stories, tell you about imaginary friends, or tell obvious lies to avoid consequences for bad behavior. This is all normal. A child in kindergarten that insists that they saw a princess riding a horse through the front yard is using their imagination to tell a story. If the lie is intended to hurt a sibling or get someone into trouble, the lie should be addressed, taking care to impress upon them the damage lies cause.

Not a Bad Kid

When your child lies, you may begin to see them as sneaky or devious, especially if the lies continue. You’ll start to feel that the lies undermine your authority. The connection in your mind is that since lying is considered bad, then a child that lies is also bad. Parents should hold their children responsible for lying. But the mistake parents make is when they start to blame the kid for behavior that is a normal part of child development.

Deal With The Lie

When you find your child lying, make sure to deal with the lie, rather than calling them a liar. Labeling your child boxes them in and can lead to shame and other negative feelings.

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