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Last Update Date: 05 November 2019

Lie: Behavior of deliberately deceiving others by putting false information instead of hidden truth is called a lie. Among the reasons of lie at children, they usually do not intend to fool others. If the child often lies, there are certain reasons and solutions. In order to determine how to approach the lying children, we need to understand well what kind of situation we are facing.

reasons to lie at children


Imaginary Lies: Especially until the age of 3, children cannot totally perceive the differences between reality and imagination. Sometimes they can do exaggerated or innocent things to attract attention. This behavior continues until the age of 5 (generally) but decreases over time.

Example: It is not a lie but imagination to say that the teddy bear is running and hiding behind the wardrobe. Because the imaginary world of children is so wide, such things should not be considered as lies. It is something not to worry about.

Need-Based Lies: Children between the ages of 3 and 5 may often prefer emotional manipulation to get some of their needs. Emotional manipulation is also associated with some kind of lie. For example, it is quite normal for a child who is waiting for attention to say "I have a fever " because he or she has experienced the fact that catching everybody's attention is very likely when they with high body temperature. Although we use some expressions such as "lie, emotion manipulation" as a definition, this is actually a message of a need. The purpose of the child is not to deceive you but gain your attention. If parents can take and interpret that message well, child will no longer need lie.

Imitated Lies: Lately we have posted the following content on our social media accounts.

reasons to lie at children social media

Joseph Joubert's beautiful quote summarizes the whole topic, but I want to add an example.

Example: If you avoid your child desire to go to the park with the excuse of "we have work" and then you go to the shopping center, your child begins to think that it is normal to lie for their own priorities. In such cases, parents should be questioning themselves rather than the child.

Social Lie: Children who do not want to go to school, feel sleepy, or have totally different plans for the day may want to refuse their responsibilities for a short time by telling that they are sick. Adults often do this as well. We shared the solution in the rest of the article. Let us continue to go through the types of lies to categorize the reasons of lying.

Pathological Lies: Lies which children and adolescents with impulsive control disorders tells are quite contrary lies. Such lies are often told without any purpose or reason. Example: A child who is constantly humiliated by his or her uncle tells an unintentional lie that the uncle is dead -even if the he is alive- when his or her uncle is asked in another conversation. The emotion triggering this lie is that the child feels uncomfortable with the presence of the uncle. The reasons for telling the pathological lies: Negative emotions such as rejection and unwillingness.

Such unintentional lies can also be caused by problems such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Hyperactive children often move and talk without thinking. Therefore, they can tell those lies without thinking about their consequences or reasons. Especially in case of observing pathologic lies, it is necessary to apply to specialized child psychiatrists.

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Lies to Protect Oneself: Children who think people will overreact when they confess a mistake they have made, even adults, may prefer lying to protect themselves. Not only for something they have done, but people can also lie because they are afraid of coming reactions. Especially, saying "why are you lying" to a child who is exposed to violence means asking a question that we have already known what the answer is. Of course, they lied because they were afraid. Lying to family can turn into a kind of defense mechanism. If it is difficult for the child to bear the consequences of the mistake, it becomes easy lying to family.

Admirable Lies: These kinds of lies, which we sometimes see in adults who want to gain more prestige, can be preferred as a tactic for children and adolescents as well. Why do children, who come up with something they pretend to it without having desired qualifications or who making up various success stories for something that require great skill, tell that kind of lies? One of the most obvious reasons for this is the lack of self-confidence. Those who see themselves as inadequate may prefer to lie to exaggerate themselves.

Routine Lies: These are the lies that children do not stop telling even at an age which they are able to distinguish the reality and imagination. If we are saying that someone is lying as a routine, they might have reached a certain level of maturity and have realized the ethical difference between lie and honesty.

Routine lies are selfish and constantly repeated deceptive sayings to protect their own interests. Such lies are not child lies anymore and have lost their innocence. However, it is not a situation that requires accusing or insulting. It is necessary to analyze why the person needs these lies. People with these types of lying often have symptoms of personality disorder. All of these can be treated, but these cases require to get help from a specialist psychiatrist.


We have shortly explained the types of lies and reasons of children lying. Just as you read these definitions, I guess some of the parents have taken a lesson from their own mistakes. Children lying a lot could also be the result of negligence of patents. Let's explain how to correct this behavior and lie at children, and what to do to a child who lies.

1. Do not Be Perfectionist: Your child may make you see his or her failures look like others fault with excuses or a slander. The reason for this behavior is usually family force. When you give up being a perfectionist as a parent, you can observe that your child has stopped lying. Make them feel that you love them unconditionally and do not compare with others. Allow your child feel that your love for him or her is not about success or failure.

2. Do not Force and Be Threatening: If your child is hiding what he or she has done and pretending not to do it when you ask, he is probably feeling threatened. If you give up being too conservative, oppressive, and threatening, you can also see that your child has given up lying. It is not how you will punish them as a result of their negative behavior but talk to them about how their positive behaviors will let them gain lots of things. For example: Instead of saying "I'll punish you if I come home late from school" it is better to say "do not hang out after school because I'm very curious when you're late. You make me very happy by being home on time every day."

3. Be Interested Do not leave your children without attention. It is observed that children who do not feel enough attention from their family are more likely to increase their lying behavior.

4. Enable Them to Gain Self Confidence: While talking about lie types, we also mentioned the type of lies arising from lack of self-confidence. Your child needs to use his or her mental skills effectively in order to be successful in life.They should be appreciated, feel the sense of accomplishment, and discover their own intelligence potential. In this way, inferiority complexes do not occur and they will be able to express themselves comfortably in any environment. Therefore, they will not need to lie for gaining a reputation.

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As we mentioned above, there may be attention deficit and hyperactivity factors among the causes of lie at children. In order to keep them away from lying, the first thing to do is their attention levels need to be improved. MentalUP is a unique application that also supports attention development of children. You can try it FREE.

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5. Do not Maintain Confidentiality for Their Lies: Do not involve them to your own lies. The simplest example: Do not order a hamburger to a child who shouldn't have eaten hamburger and then tell him or her "do not tell your father you are hamburger if he asks". This is obviously a wrong confidentiality between you and your child. Because such situations may make them to think "yeah, it is sometimes okay to lie" and so that it becomes a normal thing to do.

6. Do not Interrogate: Do not questioning for hours when you catch a lie. Be a good listener, and then explain sincerely what does this behavior make you feel like. Knowing that he or she will have a serious interrogation even if he or she confesses, would cause a stress like keep going the lying.

7. Do not Use Violence: Do not try to change your child's behaviors which makes you angry about them by shouting or beating. Violence is never a solution. Children who are exposed to physical or any other kind of violence try to cover their mistakes with lies to protect themselves. Yet, all children make mistakes and this is the most usual and normal thing ever.

8. Trust Them: It is one of the reasons children lie is because parents do not trust them. For example, trying to catch every lie and often telling "you're lying" can cause the child to feel unreliable. The child who accepts this character can think of it as "they do not trust me anyway, it doesn't matter if they catch my lie". Therefore, actually tell your children that you trust them and also make them feel your love.

9. Respect Their Privacy: You should especially distinguish what you should ask and should not ask your children during adolescence. For example, you do not have to ask why they are taking a shower. Generally, taking a shower is simply for cleaning. Why are details important to you? With this and other unnecessary and extreme interrogations you can make your child to lie. There is no important or small lie because there is a risk of being a routine.

10. Do not Look for a Guilty One for Every Negativity: Stop meaningless questioning like why glass is broken, water is spilled, fridge is open, and so on. If the glass is broken, you can ask your child for help to clean. For example, he or she can bring the vacuum cleaner. Or you can ask to clean if he or she spilled the water or tea. It is better than to say "why did you do it?".

With these 10 subjects, we have explained the reasons children lie and the solutions. To sum up, the children lying certainly have had various negativities in their developmental process. Therefore, among the reasons for lying, educational mistakes of parents also have a significant effect. Do not forget: In spite of everything, lie at children can be fixed. Do not forget to get support from child psychiatrists if you feel terribly uncomfortable and cannot control the situation.