Nov. 6, 2019

Why Kids Tell Lies (and When It's Okay)

Why do kids tell lies? How do we know when it’s a problem? Making kids admit their lies isn’t always necessary, as long as we parent in ways that focus less on those falsehoods and more on our kids making things right again. Here’s how.

There are all kinds of reasons that kids lie, not the least of which being that it is sometimes quite clearly the assignment: "Tell Aunt Clara how much you love your new pencil case!" But sometimes kids lie a lot-- about seemingly inconsequential things-- and we're left wondering, as parents, how much it matters, and how to respond.

In this episode we discuss when kids are developmentally ready to lie, all the reasons that your kids might try it, and what are and are not useful parental responses (we especially love Dr. Carol Brady's "truth check" idea).

If your child's frequent lying is of concern, don't despair that your child is a Liar with a capital L, but do look more closely at what else might be going on. As Dr. Harold Koplowitz of the Child Mind Institute explains: "habitual lying is a symptom, not a diagnosis."

Here are links to research and other writing on the topic that we discuss in this episode:

Beth Arky for Why Kids Lie and What Parents Can Do About It

Hollee Actman Becker for Parents: Lying Is a Sign of Healthy Development in Kids (Yes, Really!)

Xiao Pan Ding et al for Hangzhou College of Preschool Education: Theory-of-Mind Training Causes Honest Young Children to Lie

Harold S. Koplewicz, MD for When should you get help for a child who’s a habitual liar?

Susan Pinker for Wall Street Journal: Children’s Lies Are a Sign of Cognitive Progress

Jennifer Soong for WebMD: Lies, Truths, and Your Preschooler

Zawn Villines for Good Therapy: Why Do Children Lie? Normal, Compulsive, and Pathological Lying in Kids

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