Why Do Kids Lie?

It is normal for any parent to feel betrayed, angry, hurt and frustrated when they catch their child in a lie. You may wonder why kids lie. However, here is a truth you may not want to hear; lying is normal. While it is wrong in every aspect, it is normal. As a matter of fact, everyone lies to some extent. For instance, consider how adults use lying in their everyday lives; when you are caught by the traffic police speeding, you may minimize what you have done wrong if you don’t out-rightly lie about it.

With kids, lying can be considered a faulty way of solving problems. It is the work of the parent(s) to find a good way of teaching kids how to solve problems without having to lie.

Below are some of the common reasons that explain why kids lie. You will learn later about how you can handle the situation when you catch your kid in a lie.

Why Kids Lie at Different Ages?


Why Kids Lie

Birth to 3 Years

This is the age where kids are in a confusing stage of their life. When a kid lies at this age, they often do so in an effort to protect themselves or to soothe grownups. They will know whether to lie or not depending on the tone of voice of the grownup. Angry tones will often be responded to with a “not me” response. This is done because kids do not like being in trouble with adults and the questioning scares them.

3 to 5 Years


In this stage, kids are still trying to differentiate fiction from reality. This is when they create an imaginary world in their play and this can bring confusion between what’s real and what’s fictional. This may cause the child to lie amid their confusion in an effort to tell tales when you need them to tell the truth.

5 to 10 Years


This is the age where kids develop a clearer understanding about what it means to lie. If you are bringing up your kids in a community or environment where there are clear guidelines about the dangers of lying, it becomes easier for them to comply. Kids will avoid lying because they want approval from adults.

Over 10 Years

By the time your child is ten, they very well know and understand what lying is. This is the age at which they find out other reasons why they shouldn’t lie and how it can be disastrous for them. 

Why Kids Lie— Social and Developmental Reasons

When social issues overlap with development issues, it can affect their ability to tell lies or bend the truth. As kids get older, they are more likely to tell lies from the reasons below:

1. Feeling of Fear

This reason for lying mostly occurs when the adult in a kid’s life is somewhat aggressive and this worries the kid. The kid can lie to cover up an issue because they are worried that the outcome or consequence of telling the truth can be too much for them to handle so they prefer covering up the truth with a lie. This is understandable since kids are afraid of being yelled at, hit or confined to their rooms.

2. To Avoid Doing Something They Dislike

This is especially common with kids and school homework. A kid can lie that they have already done their homework to avoid doing it all together.In all honesty, there are times when telling a lie is the best possible course of action. However, it can become hard for a kid to distinguish between when they need to tell a lie or when they don’t.

3. Very Strict Parental Limits

Kids will lie when they have over domineering parents. This is as a result of rebelliousness in an effort to gain some independence. Telling the truth will not get them anywhere and hence they prefer lying to get their way. However, such kids mostly feel bad about lying, but it usually seems like the best way to be normal kids.

4. To Fit In with Peers

Kids who are unsure of their social standing in friend circles or school groups can lie to try and fit in. They lie in the effort of looking cool to win peer approval. They will also lie to cover for each other and can even lie about lying. 

5. The “Mistake Cycle”

Sometimes kids lie without quite considering the outcome and they find themselves in deeper trouble. Angry and punishable questions will be responded to by a lie even though the kid knows that they did what they are being questioned over and that the adult questioning also knows they did too. The kid goes even further and tries to pin the blame on another person or factor making it even worse. This gets the adult angry and the child now has to deal with three mistakes; the issue at hand, the lying and an angry adult.

How to Deal With Kids Who Lie

How to Deal


Be good role models

Parents or guardians should be good role models when it comes to honest living. Living lives of integrity and honesty is a good way of setting the pace for the kids to imitate. 

Remain calm

Avoid questioning the kid when you’re angry or frustrated as this warrants an immediate lie. If you find a kid in a lie, try to handle the situation in the calmest ways possible.

Train and explain


When young kids stretch the truth or tell tales, do not accuse them of being liars. Make them understand the difference between reality and their imagination. Try doing this without shutting down their creativity.

Find the reason


Before you reprimand the child, try and understand the root of the lie. By so doing, you will be able to understand how you can handle the issue and ensure the kid does not have to lie about it again.

Do not interrogate


If you find your kid in a lie, try not to force the truth out of them. Clearly give them a second chance to tell the truth and explain the consequences of not being truthful.

Do not label the kid 

Never ever label your kid as a liar. Your kid’s identity may become entangled with that label and this can be harder to correct on the future.

Find smarter ways of dealing with it

Try and avoid creating a situation where your kid may be compelled to lie. Instead of asking direct questions to situations, try and use a different approach. Direct questions sound harsh and the kid may be compelled to lie to save themselves from punishment, even when what they have done is not a big deal.

Praise the kid’s honesty

When your kid owns up to a mistake, praise them. This will make it easier for them to tell you the truth in the future. Let your kid know that you will not be upset when they are honest.

Do not give up


Even if your child continues to lie after you have put in so much effort, do not give up. With time, they will catch up and will stop the habit.

Be involved


Ensure you are involved in your child’s life and encourage them to be truthful with you. Children who are close to their parents are unlikely to be involved in antisocial behavior.

Seek professional help

If you realize that your child may have an issue with lying, it is best to seek the help of an expert. This will help address the lying in a professional level.

Watch this video to learn some useful tips that you can use to handle lying in kids: