Lying - The Play Doctors

Identify why the child lying

Could it be because:


  • Attention seeking
  • Wishful thinking
  • To hide something they’ve done wrong
  • Compensation for low self-esteem
  • Getting out of doing something
  • Cannot define fiction from reality
  • Learnt behaviour

Strategies and Responses
Consider the issues and pick your battles – always deal with situations first that are
dangerous – to self and others. This is not to say forget lying, but be aware of the
situation. A four year old may just be making up stories and being creative in their
thinking rather than being scheming, by the time child reaches 6 years they should
be well aware of the difference between truth and lying.


  • Talk to the child about the issue but do not demand a confession
  • Never call a child a liar or invite the child to lie i.e. ‘Have you washed out your lunchbox?’ Instead, offer a solution ‘I notice you’ve not washed your lunchbox, do it now quickly so I can pack your sandwiches’ or have a rule that they show you their lunch box is clean each morning.
  • If you call a child a liar you are entering a negative cycle which is difficult to break and lowers the child’s self esteem. Don’t bring up past lies, deal with each situation independently. Be honest with the child and tell them you know that they are not telling the truth. Offer an opportunity to sort out the problem together.
  • Or explain that you know that what the child is saying is an exaggeration of the truth i.e. ‘I know you’d love to go to Disney land so that’s why you were pretending you met micky mouse’
  • Teach your child why lying does not work, use social stories to say what happens when people lie and dangerous situations it can get them into.
  • Be clear on the consequences of lying – offer the child an option to tell you the truth and the lie is forgiven, or if they carry on lying what the consequence will be, making sure that the consequence is meaningful to the child.
  • Praise honesty and always be honest yourself. If you tell a lie in front of the child that they know is not the truth for instance taking a few years off your age, you are teaching the child it is OK to lie.
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