Skip Nav
Back to School
15 Apps to Help Mom Through the School Year
Food and Activities
33 S'mores Recipes That Will Make Your Kids Go (Graham) Crackers
Tweens and Teens
It's Almost That Time! 17 Awesome Backpacks Your Kids Will Be Begging For

7 Tips for Raising Kids Who Won't Lie to You

7 Tips for Raising Kids Who Won't Lie to You

7 Tips for Raising Kids Who Won't Lie to You

Circle of Moms member Sarah is concerned that her daughter is lying to her. She writes, "It can be over the littlest things or it can be bigger things like when she 'borrowed' money from my wallet without telling me. We are consistent about punishing her when she lies, but I’m concerned it’s getting out of control."

Sarah’s frustration is understandable. There’s nothing as unnerving as knowing your child lied, whether it’s about a candy bar missing from the pantry or an F on a test.
And addressing the problem of lying isn’t easy, either, as there’s no one thing you can do to make the problem go away, including using punishment. In fact, punishment will only make things worse—which is probably why Sarah hasn’t seen any improvement. 

Read on to find out why punishment isn’t the answer, and get some solutions that really will help you create a safe environment for the truth. 


1. Watch how you respond to your kids when they misbehave or make a poor choice.

Even adults will lie to protect themselves from punishment or an unpleasant outcome when they do something wrong — so why should we expect anything different from our kids? Work on using a "calm voice" to address bad behavior and avoid punishment and lectures, so your child will feel safe telling the truth. 

2. Shift to solutions.

Emphasize ways to fix the situation or misbehavior. Instead of demanding, “Who tracked mud all over the floor?” which is ripe for a lie, say, “What can we do to get this cleaned up?” This allows the child to constructively save face — and you can bet that after wiping up a muddy floor, he’ll remove his dirty shoes next time.

3. Ask instead of accuse.

If you catch your child in a lie, work on figuring out why she felt like she couldn’t tell you the truth. You can gently say, “That sounds a bit far-fetched. You must be worried about telling me what really happened. Let’s talk about that.” By opening the conversation this way, you’ll get the real story — and information that can clue you in on how to get her to demonstrate honesty in the future.



4. Encourage honesty.

Whenever your child tells the truth about something difficult, commend her. “I bet it was hard to tell the truth. You really showed some courage. Thanks for taking responsibility.”

5. Make the most of mistakes.

Kids who aren’t yelled at or punished for messing up will be more likely to admit it when they do. And when they fess up, turn the mistake into a learning opportunity. Invite your child to brainstorm ways he could handle the situation differently if he had a “do-over,” and, if someone else was affected, encourage him to “make it right.” 

6. Love unconditionally.

Your child needs to know that while sometimes you don’t like her behavior, you’ll love her no matter what kind of mistakes she makes. Make every effort to show her, and she’ll be more likely to open up. 

7. Watch your own “white lies."

Your friend might not know that you don’t already have plans Saturday night (and can’t babysit her two-year-old,”) but your child does. When you let a “white lie” slip, your kids think they’re acceptable. You’ve heard it before: set a good example!

By creating a safe environment for the truth in your household, you’ll see a lot more honesty. Better yet, you’ll be helping your child develop the kinds of character traits that will serve her well throughout her life.

Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids To Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. For easy to implement strategies for happier families and well-behaved kids, follow Positive Parenting Solutions on Facebook.

"Pay It Forward" to a Military Family
Amy McCready is partnering with Blue Star Families in an initiative called “Pay it Forward Parenting.” For every book purchased, McCready and Positive Parenting Solutions will donate an online parenting training course to a deserving military family. For more information on this charity initiative, visit


Image Source: jem via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
cherylanndaniel cherylanndaniel 5 years
Really great tips for handling your children talking to them expressing how you feel works they don't wan't to hurt your feelings so if you let them know that you are disappointed in them it works
CoMMember13631150549805 CoMMember13631150549805 5 years
kathleen lyle@ maybe your daughter is telling the truth but doesn't want you to embarass her by including the teacher
ConnieOrman ConnieOrman 5 years
One thing to remember is that lying is not "lying" until the age of 8. Until then children lack the capacity to differentiate real from imaginary, and they can actually convince themselves that whatever they are making up is in fact truth. They gain that capacity right around age 8. So, if you punish them earlier for "lying" then they often do not see the connection and simply see you as not believing them and being mean. It's important to ask gently if it is real or make believe and guide their thinking process to be able to develop this differentiation. Small children always want to please their caregivers and will "lie" to make them happy. It's important that they are not given a reason to make it into a habit.
ShellyWhitehead ShellyWhitehead 5 years
I've told my kids that I would rather they tell me the truth, since I'm less likely to be upset with them, than if they lie to me about what they've done. They understand that they receive consequences for their actions, and know that the more negative the action, the more dire the consequence. It's worked better for me than my ranting about the misconduct.
VanessaBailey95503 VanessaBailey95503 5 years
My son lied early on, in elementary school. He would lie for everything. And the bad part was he thought it was funny. We had come to our wits end about punishment, so we took the next step. He had been given a used computer (this was in 2002-2003), and we told him that his punishment for lieing would be to give his computer away if he did it again. He did, over something small, and the computer went away. He was the one to write the sign offering it free, and he carried the parts he was able to carry. He did not lie again for years. When he did, we asked if he remembered what the punishment for lieing was, he replied he did, told the truth, and we have had no more trouble from him. I say nip it in the bud early, then you have no problems later.
jillkotas jillkotas 5 years
It is a sign of intelligence. Do you want to get in trouble... Do you. Neither does your 4 year old. It is self preservation.
KathleenLyle KathleenLyle 5 years
but what do you do when your child lies to you but it's not about something I'VE asked, My daughter will just tell me a lie, like she came home from school and said that some of her friends in class where making fun of her and calling her fat, and my daughter is a dang toothpick, I was very concerned at first asking her who, and why would they, and trying to make her understand that she isn't fat, I then said I will write the teacher a letter, she immediatly quites up and says, you don't have to, I ask, I don't have to what? She says you don't have to write my teacher, I then ask Where you lying to me? and she says yes, she has done this several times.
Being a Good Mom
Things Parents Shouldn't Say to Teenagers
Teaching Kids Responsibility
Ignoring Kids
From Our Partners
Latest Moms
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds