and dishonesty are learned in the home. Parents are often
concerned when their child or adolescent lies.
that is probably not a serious problem:
children (ages 4-5) often make up stories and tell tall tales.
This is normal activity because they enjoy hearing stories
and making up stories for fun. These young children may blur
the distinction between reality and fantasy.
child or adolescent may tell a lie to be self-serving (e.g.
avoid doing something or deny responsibility for their actions).
Parents should respond to isolated instances of lying by talking
with the youngster about the importance of truthfulness, honesty
discover that lying may be considered acceptable in certain
situations such as not telling a boyfriend or girlfriend the
real reasons for breaking up because they don't want to hurt
their feelings. Other adolescents may lie to protect their
privacy or to help them feel psychologically separate and
independent from their parents (e.g. denying they sneaked
out late at night with friends).
that may indicate emotional problems:
who know the difference between truthfulness and lying, tell
elaborate stories which appear believable. Children or adolescents
usually relate these stories with enthusiasm because they
receive a lot of attention as they tell the lie.
children or adolescents, who otherwise seem responsible, fall
into a pattern of repetitive lying. They often feel that lying
is the easiest way to deal with the demands of parents, teachers
and friends. These children are usually not trying to be bad
or malicious but the repetitive pattern of lying becomes a
are also some children and adolescents who are not bothered
by lying or taking advantage of others. Other adolescents
may frequently use lying to cover up another serious problem.
For example, an adolescent with a serious drug or alcohol
problem will lie repeatedly to hide the truth about where
they have been, who they were with, what they were doing,
and where the money went.
do if a Child or Adolescent lies:
are the most important role models for their children. When
a child or adolescent lies, parents should take some time
to have a serious talk and discuss:
difference between make believe and reality, lying and telling
importance of honesty at home and in the community, and
If a child
or adolescent develops a pattern of lying which is serious
and repetitive, then professional help may be indicated. Evaluation
by a child and adolescent psychiatrist would help the child
and parents understand the lying behavior and would also provide
recommendations for the future.
#44 Updated 11/95