Exercises to Help Kids Stop Lying

By Candice Coleman
Children may lie to avoid punishment.
Children may lie to avoid punishment.

Your child frequently has a story about going on extravagant vacations or lies about all of the friends she has at school. While creating stories can be a way for children to show imagination, lying can also be used to avoid punishment or keep adults happy. Frustrated parents have many means available to discourage lying in children.

Modeling Honesty

Your kids learn that you kept quiet about extra change after a transaction at a store, or that a waiter forgot to add a few items to the bill. Among the greatest teachers of honest behavior is a parents' example, according to clinical psychologist Kate Driscoll, writing for the website "A Place of our Own." Parents should tell the truth and act honestly in their daily lives. You can also act out these scenarios for your children, asking them to pick out the honest solution to the problem.

Encouraging Truthfulness

There are many reasons that children resort to lying, and getting out of trouble and pleasing parents are among them, according to Boston Children's Hospital. Parents can exercise calmness and compassion to encourage truthful behavior in children. If your little one admits to taking a sibling's toys or sneaking dessert before dinner, you should thank her for telling the truth, according to Driscoll. Afterward, ask your daughter to return the toys and to apologize. Showing your daughter that it is safe to tell the truth may encourage her to continue that behavior in the future.

Alternatives to Lying

Children may feel that the only choice is telling a lie or being honest, even at the expense of hurting others' feelings. If kids feel uncomfortable not lying, you can also encourage your child not to say anything or to change the subject, according to the Women's and Children's Health Network. If your child receives a gift he does not like and is asked for his opinion, you can encourage him to tell a "white lie" in order to spare feelings.

Additional Information

Younger children are often still learning the difference between fantasy and reality, so their stories may involve outrageous claims, according to Dr. William Sears. Parents can remind kids that these stories are what they wish would happen, and not what has happened. If lying persists despite your efforts, meeting with a child psychiatrist may give you the tools and exercises you need to keep your child from lying.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.