The psychology behind children’s lies and how parents should handle them


Children who are good at manipulating words tend to lie sometimes. Let’s look at why children lie and how parents should react when it happens.


Children often lie out of “self-defense”

The most common reason for lying among children is out of self-defense. For example, when they are scolded or when they break something, they often say “I didn’t do it” to protect themselves. They are afraid that adults will get angry if they tell the truth.

Not only toddlers but elementary school and junior high school children also lie out of self-defense at times. Older children often get in the habit of lying when they hit puberty because they feel uncomfortable telling their parents the truth.

Children’s lies come in various patterns

Children lie not only when they are trying to protect themselves but also when they want to attract attention or want something. For example, they might say “it hurts” when they are not injured or say that they were praised by their teacher even if they weren’t or even tell a friend that they have a game that they do not actually have. Sometimes, children’s imagination or fantasy is mixed with reality and they end up telling a lie.

Telling lies is part of a child’s development

Parents are often worried about the child-raising skills when their child starts lying. However, children often lie so it is important that parents don’t take it personally.

Many times, children lie because they are unable to tell the difference between right and wrong or their desires get in the way. Lying to protect oneself is often proof that their intelligence has developed. As children develop, their feelings for themselves and desire to protect themselves develop as well.

What is the best way to react when your child lies?

Getting angry at your child when he/she lies will often stimulate his/her self-defense mechanism and cause him/her to lie even more. It is important that parents create an environment at home where children feel comfortable telling the truth and speaking with their parents freely about what is going on in their lives.

When parents have a strong and open relationship with their children, it is easier to teach them the importance of telling the truth and how telling lies can hurt friends and family member’s feelings.

Parents should talk with their children about what they should do instead of lying in the future instead of getting angry at them when they lie. It sometimes helps to have their teacher talk to them as well to better understand their specific reason for telling a lie.

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