How to Discipline a Child Who Lies a Lot: 5 Steps - MakeSureHow
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She may tell stories, but help her understand her mistakes.

When your little one comes up with major whoppers, you may not know which way to turn. While big people have a firm concept of truth and deception, these lines aren’t so clear and defined for toddlers and preschoolers. Before you drag your kid to therapy, take a close look at the situation. Apply discipline but don’t forget that discipline means teaching. With your firm and loving guidance, your youngster can learn the benefits of honesty.


  1. 1
    Determine what’s behind the lying before you do anything. Little ones don’t understand truthfulness and honesty the same way adults do, according to pediatrician and author William Sears, with the Ask Dr. Sears website. Ask pertinent questions to determine why your youngster isn’t telling the truth. If you find out it’s merely storytelling or wishful thinking, go ahead and play along. There’s no harm.
  2. 2
    Deal with creative lies designed to shift responsibility to teach a lesson. If your child blamed the muddy footprints tracked through the house on his imaginary friend, this deserves a conversation. You might say, “I can see how blaming Nova for the messy footprints sounds like a good idea, but let’s talk about what really happened. It’s OK -- I’m not mad.”
  3. 3
    Talk about the value of honesty with your little one if you discern there are other reasons for lying. You might say, “I know it’s tempting to hide the truth, especially if you’re afraid you’re in trouble. It’s always better to tell the truth, though. Lying hurts both you and others.”
  4. 4
    Promise mercy for truthfulness to encourage your little one to tell the truth. By telling your child that telling the truth will always win points, you teach and reward the truth. In contrast, if your child lies, show disapproval and hand down an additional consequence connected with the lie.
  5. 5
    Follow through with your promise whenever your little one chooses to tell the truth. Make a special point to recognize how awesome it is that your child was honest -- “I’m so proud of you for telling the truth!” If your youngster lets loose with a whopper, correct your child firmly to discourage lying. Say “I don’t think that’s true, is it? Will you please help me clean up this mess? Next time, I’m sure you’ll tell the truth.” Keep consequences for lying reasonable for kids this age, advises Angela Oswalt, MSW, et al. of the Mental Health Care website. Over-the-top punishments might even increase lying behavior.

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