- From ages 5 to 10, kids develop an understanding of what it means to lie. If they’ve been raised in a home and a school where there are clear rules and consequences about the importance of telling the truth, they should always strive to be honest. They should want their parents, siblings, friends, teachers and other adults to think highly of their character.
- From ages 10 and up, most children know perfectly well when they are exaggerating the truth or outright lying.
The Four Reasons Kid’s Lie
- Mistakes: Sometimes kids lie without thinking and then make things worse for themselves by continuing the lie. A very important thing to remember is that if a kid tells a lie, it is always better to admit they were lying and to tell the truth right away. Parents, for example, understand that kids sometimes lie without thinking sometimes. What a lot of children don’t understand is that admitting the truth right away is a great way of establishing trust.
- Fear: Sometimes children lie out of fear to avoid getting into trouble or receiving a consequence. It is important to explain to your kids that when they lie to avoid receiving a consequence they will get into more trouble than if they did something wrong and told the truth about it right away.
- To Avoid Doing Things: Sometimes kids lie to get out of doing something they don’t want to do. Homework or a project they have to complete for school are just a couple of examples. It is very important for kids to remember that there are many things they have to do, even if they don’t want to. This will never end as the same is true for adults. Being responsible for things you have to do in life, even if it is a non-preferred task, is a good habit for kids to learn at a young age.
- As a Way To Fit In:Sometimes kids lie to get others to like them. They may want people to think they are “cool.” They lie to win approval from their peers, parents, adults etc. It is important for children to remember that people will like them for being themselves and it is actually “un-cool” to lie. The message we need to send our children is that if you are being kind, respectful and honest, and someone doesn’t like you, they are not worth being your friend anyway. Truth, honesty and being yourself is the “coolest.”
Dr. Scott Koenig, Psy.D.