How to Deal with a Child That Lies

How to Get Nothing But the Truth from Children

Does a child you care for stretch the truth, avoides the truth, or out-and-put lies to you? Cynthia Whitham, author of The Answer Is NO: Saying It and Sticking to It. Saying and sticking to it explains that are some things in life that are not negogotiable, like lying.

The author explains that at an early age children don’t easily differentiate fantasy fro reality. Their truth and their wishes get all entangled. But, as children age they use lying to keep from getting into trouble. They hope that saying, “I didn’t do it,” to be saved from punishment.

Lying is not only a bad strategy (they truth is usually found out), but it is a very unacceptable behavior in most life settings.

How to get nothing but the truth from children:

1. Model taking responsiblity
2. Model being honest.
3. Don’t lie to the children in your care.
4. If you are worried about a preschooler’s fantasy wishes you can help by teaching the difference between pretend and real.
5. Use fables and fairy tales to impress upon children the importance of the truth. Read Pinocchio and The Boy Who Cried Wolf to present clear consequences of lying.
6. Reward the truth. If a child comes forward and tells you about something bad that happened take the opportunity to praise him. That way the child won’t be afraid of telling you the truth, because you handled it well.
7. Since it is possible children lie to get attention, don’t take the good stuff for granted. Show interest in the little things that the child does and praise her for successes.


  1. The little one I care for lies when he is trying to protect me from negative thoughts or situations. He isn't trying to protect himself from my wrath, but is trying to keep me happy and unworried – mind you he's never seen me worried. Any tips aside from honest conversation about how I'm an adult and can handle any situation that comes?

  2. I tell white lies all the time. I think it's simply a part of nature for kids.

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