My Son Lies to Me! What Do I Do?

My Son Lies to Me!  What Do I Do?


My kid lies to me!
 I used to hear these words all the time from parents in my classes.  They would be so distraught as to what they were going to do to their kids, because surely they had to learn a lesson. Kids telling lies is an issue that many parents struggle with how to handle.  While frustrating, there are many ways to avoid it once you understand why it happens.

If you follow my articles, you will realize that I am not in favor of punishment of any kind.  No, my four adult boys are not selfish, spoiled brats as you are probably thinking right now!  Misbehavior is communication telling you that something is wrong  A child, in their mind, is feeling powerless, unloved, not valued, or not important,  Keep in mind, this might not be true, but if they perceive it to be true, then it is truth to them, and that is what matters. They may also have found some patterns of behavior that work for them, such as getting lots of attention. The key is to find out why they are misbehaving in the first place and deal with the problem, not the symptoms, as most punishment does.

I know you are thinking, but they have to be punished!!  No, not really, who decided that kids must feel pain in order to change their behavior?  I always ask, “How is that working for you?  Did the behavior stop for good?” It usually doesn’t change anything other than make the child get more sneaky or lie to get out of the punishment, thus brings us to the lies.

Okay, so do I let my kids just do whatever with no consequences?  Of course not!  There are always consequences to choices and behaviors, that is life.  However, the consequences they had to deal with were logical for the behavior.

  • If you don’t wear a coat, you might get cold.
  • If you don’t eat, you get hungry.
  • If you forget your homework, you have to deal with the teacher.
  • If you leave toys out and they get stepped on and broken, you don’t have the toy anymore.

Logical consequences are (4 R’s) Respectful, Reasonable, Relevant, and teach Responsibility for actions, not “pay” for mistakes.  They are meant to look for solutions, offering choices, and dealing with the belief behind the behavior, not deciding what YOU want or will do.  If the consequence is not obvious, then it probably isn’t appropriate to use.  In order for them to work, the child must be able to clearly relate his behavior with the consequence without a trace of punishment.

bigstock Portrait of young boy sulking 46032508 My Son Lies to Me!  What Do I Do?Obviously, logical ones couldn’t be used for everything, such as running out in the street. There were times we would sit down and agree together what a consequence would be if something happened again.  I always let the kids decide, because they were much harder on themselves then I would have been.  So if it happened again, it took nothing more than to remind them of the consequence that THEY decided on, because of THEIR choice.  Rarely, did this even happen.

Okay, back to lying …….

First, NEVER call you child a liar, or any other name for that matter.  You never want to put that thought in his head and give him the assumption that he might as well anyway, since that is what you think of him.

Second, make sure they have never heard you lying, not even those little white lies.  “Tell him I’m not home”, etc.

Third, when you know your child has lied, never ask him if he has or if he has done the action!  When you ask “Did you do that?”, he is now in the predicament of telling the truth and probably getting punished anyway, or lying and hoping to escape punishment.  What would you do? Even if you say “Just tell me the truth, and you won’t be in trouble”, you know that doesn’t happen.  They usually don’t escape without some kind of lecture!  If they do get punished, they can start to get really good at being sneaky.

When you know he has lied, simply state the fact.  For example, if you and your child are in the store and something gets broken, you don’t need to ask him if he did it, you already know he did. You may need to pay for it at that time, but later at home calmly ask how he is going to help pay for it.

If it is his job to feed the dog and you know the dog hasn’t been fed, don’t ask him if the dog has been fed. Again, that sets him up for more lies.  Simple state the fact – “I see that the dog has not been fed again, we need to decide what will happen if this continues”.  Obviously, a logical consequence can’t happen here, or you will have a dead dog!  If it is a first time, he may have truly forgotten and just needed a reminder.  If it continues, then this is the time to sit down and discuss the situation and mutually decide what will be a consequence, not punishment, if it happens again.

Start when they are young, and work on making them feel valuable, powerful, UNCONDITIONALLY loved, and important.  Spend time doing that, and most misbehaviors will go away or not even happen at all, Yes, there are normal age appropriate testing of boundaries. That is their job!  Know they will happen, expect them, and deal with them in a kind, yet firm way.

If this has been a pattern, it may take some time for kids to trust that you are really changing.  They may look at you like you have two heads or step up the misbehavior to see if you are really going to hold them accountable, without the normal reaction you would have given them.  Stay strong, kind, and true to your word. Eventually, they will see that they have to deal with the consequences of their choices and not lie to try to escape punishment.  Better yet, if your kids are young, start now and you may never have to deal with lying.

Peace Begins At Home,

lisa My Son Lies to Me!  What Do I Do?
P.S.  I realize there are different circumstances such as foster or adopted children. They probably have already had pain or abandonment in their life, so inflicting more really isn’t the answer.  Those parents have a tougher job, but the kids are still acting out for the same reason.  Lying may be what they know, how they survived, or how they tried to escape abuse.  Obviously, there are trust issues, bonding issues, anything possible to not get close to new parents for fear of losing them also.  The answer is the same – unconditional love, make them feel valuable, powerful, and important, along with logical consequences, not more pain.  Parents of these children were chosen for a much harder job and not everyone is capable.  There are more layers to peel away and even more love needed.


Are you a frustrated parent looking for a solution to your child’s challenging behavior?

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