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April 16, 2008


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This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Cheers!

I worry about this as well. I also grew up in an alcoholic home. I share my frustration too liberally with them and fear they won't come to me because of this. "Accidents happen, but accidents happen less when we are careful," we tell them.

I think lying comes with the territory, they just do it to see what they can get away with.

Oh man, my son is getting big into lying at 4, and while my wife has struggled with reflexive lying similar to the way you describe yourself, I don't think that has influenced our kids in any way.

I don't think there's any Right way to handle it, just wrong ways and ways that don't make it worse until the kid grows up and learns for him/herself the consequences outside the laboratory.

It sounds to me (for whatever it's worth) that you guys are doing just fine, and I'm sure things will turn out great as long as you stay consistent.

Talking about Lying when you are a kid, I remember one day I arrived to school late and my math teacher ask me why I was so late: I replied: My mother died.
Gosh... ! I still think of my answer I get this nervous feeling. Why did I lie like that? No idea...

I read but do not comment often. I have to tell you though that I have been where you are and felt what you are feeling with my oldest. It has nothing to do with you or your parenting. It is just a phase and will get better. Then it will get worse again around preteen. Fun. My dd used to drive me crazy with the stupid lies. The ones that are obviously lies. And I think it is just a testing of boundaries. And learning about what truth really is.

Sounds like you're doing fine.

My daughter is starting to experiment with a bit of it now. I'm getting some good advice here.

To this day, my mother hasn't forgiven me for lying at age 4,6 and around age 8 again ( three major "truth" blowups in our little family). The thing is, looking back I still remember being unsure of what the "truth" really was-- even when I was lying back then.

Yet she just felt so "betrayed."

here are a couple of websites about children and lying:



I'm sorry if I'm repeating others, just don't have time to read the comments but I so wanted to chime in. My two kids are so different, one is constantly getting time-outs and takes his own sweet time to learn, the other rarely does anything to require punishment (like 2 timeouts in 2 years), adapatable, sweet, but seems afraid of getting in trouble so he'll lie. Even after I explain that telling a lie is worse than anything he possibly could have done. At some ages lying is also the same as wishful thinking.

Oh no. Is the guilt contagious this week? Can I give you a shot of Cortizone and some homeopathic ginseng tea and make it go away?

It has nothing to do with your parenting skills. It's a developmental phase. I saw it on Dateline!

I'm all about sending out into the universe all the good stuff I've gotten from being such a flawed parent tonight. What's up with that?

Best thing I've said to every one of my children is that I'm making mistakes all the time with them but that when I know better I'll do better. Seems to make it all right and they know I'm trying.

The important thing is: I'm trying.

You're trying.

Let that be what it is right now and take some hugs and kisses from me. Sloppy kisses. Possibly with tongue if you're feeling that bad.


I don't think you want to know everything as a parent. You just want to make sure they come to you for the big stuff.

The good news is that she cares what you think!

Yup it's normal. And has nothing to do with your parenting skills. You are a GREAT mom. She's just testing her boundaries, figuring out fantasy from fact. I think mine is just NOW understanding the repurcussions of lying. And she's 11. I just have to let her fall a little on her own now and then.

i'm not sure if this is actually helpful or not, but i'll share in the hopes that it is.

everyone who's ever known me as a blogger for very long knows that my mother and i are VERY close. i think she was (and is) an amazing mother to me. i would shout from the rooftops about her mothering skills, and i can only hope to be half as good when i have my own children.

but i lied a LOT as a kid. i don't know why i started, but i seriously doubt it was because of anything my mother did or didn't do. and i completely credit her parenting for the fact that i didn't grow up continuing to lie all the time for no good reason.

she's testing, feeling her way through this particular aspect of life and human relations. keep up the good parenting that you're already doing, and she'll quickly learn that lying is not a good way to go about her future. and she'll thank you for teaching her to be honest. and she will come to you when she needs to, just like i do with my mom.

I am so worried about my parenting right now. My almost 4 yr old isn't lying yet, but i'm sure he will figure it out soon because I have been going OFF on him lately- not beating or anything, just not handling situations well. I used to be such the great mom, but since I had my baby I am just overwhelmed! I too think that the only thing that matters is being a good mom- what else is there once you become a parent? It's the most important job ever, and I feel like I'm screwing up- or maybe it's just the pressure to be the perfect mom that comes from all directions. I am so stressed right now, and every night I tell myself I will be a better mom but every day I seem to screw up again. It sounds like you are doing much better than I am, and you are even brave enough to have a 3rd!

The joys of having an alcoholic parent. There is a big difference between lying out of survival and lying because you are testing your limits as you learn appropriate behavior. Q is a very smart girl who is experimenting with different types of behavior - perfectly normal (at least that's what I read when all 3 of my children went through the same phase!).

My father is an alcoholic and I find that as a result I am always hyper questioning my skills as a parent because I am so afraid of being anything like him. You are such a thoughtful, fun and wonderful mother. Keep in mind all of your successes as a parent as you navigate these normal phases that most children go through.

We've obviously got to teach her better. "The Little Brother Did It" is only going to cut it for so long.

And the bed things? TOTALLY amateur.

I totally get this - totally.
My son lies every so often. Like he'll say he did something he didn't or he'll tell me his dad says he can stay up even though I was sitting RIGHT THERE when my husband said "bedtime".
I think he's testing his boundaries, and I don't make a big deal of it. Usually I just say "are you sure?" and he often comes clean.
I don't think it's bad parenting cause every child lies.

I just found this blog and fairly new to motherhood and want to do my very best at being a mom as well. I am always afraid of falling short one way or another. Although I am not there yet at the lieing stage (my son is almost 2) I keep hoping things get easier as he ages, but it doesn't seem so.

Actually, it seems to me that Q is a little behind on the developmental chart when it comes to lying.

My son, who is the same age, totally started lying, like, a year ago.

The kids I used to nanny for started lying at two-and-a-half or so, also. So did my cousins, and my little brother.

And my little sister? Yeesh. Don't get me started. She was lying from the womb.

So I would guess your careful parenting techinique IS working. You're successfully raising an underdeveloped liar, Kristen ;) I wouldn't worry.

I went through this stage with my daughter. I thought I was going to lose my mind and then my kids after someone carted them off far away from me while thinking what a shitty mom I was.

Good news, she grew out of it.

Bad news, she traded it in for other endearing milestones, such as back talk and rebellion.


Me too.

(Appreciate all the good comments - very reassuring.)

All of us are imperfect parents, but only some of us realize it. Asking yourself these questions makes you the best kind of parent, not the worst. This advice has been shamelessly stolen from my husband, who tells me this when I doubt my own parenting, which is usually when my 3 year old son says, "I'll NEVER be able to do it! It's NOT good enough! I'm NOT frustrated, I'm MAD!"

Ahh. We are dealing with this in my house, with my 4 year old daughter now. It's a tough stage and I too reflect on my parenting as a cause. It's been really hard trying to come up with ways to explain to a 4 year old the difference between hurtful lies and white lies. Do we even teach this yet?
I'm stuck and seemingly just as worried about the future outcome of this phase of her life.
I have no sage advice. Just love love love her as much as you can.

Kristen - I have been reading your blog for over a year, never leaving comments, but always either laughing or commiserating with you. After peaking in your window for the last year, the one thing I can be certain of is that you LOVE LOVE you children. As long your children know you LOVE them the way you do, they will know they can come to you. The lying is a phase, just like the cheeking sarcastic teenager will be another. Like you , I am a visible minority, raised by immigrant parents who did not believe in sparing the rod. I feared my father ever finding out about when I broke the rules because I knew consequences. BUT also knew how much my dad LOVED me, my siblings and I were his world. To this day he would give his life, in a heartbeat, if it meant I would have a good life. I know you would do the same for your children . That LOVE is the greatest gift of all. Q is just testing boundaries, seeing if you mean what you say. Hold tight, you can get through this.

I have to agree with all the posts I skim-read. This isn't bad parenting, it's not a consequence of hearing fights. It's a normal stage. She's learned that she's an individual, not attached to or a part of Mommy, and that stage had to have had its bumps and potholes, yes? This is the stage where she learns true from false. Deception as I'm sure you know is a basic part of humanity (other animal-ities too), not just in outright lies. We all do it. "Yes, those highlights look great, where did you get them done again," when what you really mean is "good gawds, tell me where you got that overprocessed fried look so I won't make the mistake of going there." Well, your daughter is just learning the art of deception, and isn't so great at discerning right from wrong yet. She's testing her abilities, and your reactions (as well as what she can get away with). The measure of your parenting will be in her ability to learn 'socially okay deception' from outright nasty lies. I have no doubt at all that you'll do a great job and teach her to use her skills of deception for good instead of 'evil'.

It certainly IS a phase that children go through. When my twelve-year-old was that age, it seemed like just an impulse of hers to lie. If put on the spot, the first words out of her mouth were clearly a lie and once they were out, you could tell that she felt like there was no going back. We just kept reinforcing the importance of telling the truth and how we'd be more disappointed to find out that she lied to us than for whatever it was she thought she did wrong and felt the need to lie about. I can tell you that now, I can't even remember the last time she has lied to us, even if she knows that she did something wrong and will likely get grounded. I hope it sticks with her through her teen years.

My four-year-old is also going through the lying stage now. We're just doing what we did before, putting her in time out for lying and explaining the importance of telling the truth. I'm sure she will get through the phase, just like her sister did, just like your daughter will. Good luck!

I agree with Blair. Kids test out their independence in a myriad of ways, and this is just one way that she is figuring out who she is, who YOU are, and what to do in certain situations.

It's human instinct to try to avoid reprimand or avoid doing something you don't want to do, like make your bed. It's not a reflection on you as a parent - it's a reflection on her burgeoning development as a kid. Lying is normal. How you react to it is the test.

With K., (5.5 y/o) we give her one chance to 'fess up, then we dole out punishment - time out or loss of privilege. We've told her that lying is worse than whatever it was that she did wrong. And - that if she feels the need to lie about it, she shouldn't have done it in the first place. If whatever it was can't shine in the light - don't do it.

I just want to cry for you when you write about your own childhood - it sounds like lying became survival for you. I can see why you're sensitive about it in your own family.

See, this is what happens when you steal little ducks!


(to refresh people's memories, if I may be so bold as to post this link)

It's not perfect but our solution has been to make it clear that lying is the worst thing to us. We'll deal with whatever went wrong in a fair way, but the lie is what he'll really get in trouble for. Truth is rewarded.

Yes, every child goes through this stage and no, it does not have anything to do with your parenting. When they are young, they have no concept of 'getting in deeper' with the lies or that telling the truth results in less punishment. I have a 2 and 3 year old that constantly blame each other for things they have done. But, my 11 year old knows that if she lies to us, she will get in a lot more punishment. We started when she was 2 or 3 explaining this and they do eventually get that fact. I agree with Zeynap, I don't accuse them of lying, I just ask them if they would like to think about their answer it is better to just tell me what happened. Not to brag, but my daughter does a good job of telling us, even when I know it is killing her, because she has learned that we are much less harsh with grounding, etc. I'm sure my boys will get it too ..........someday! In the meantime, I just have to work through "my brother did it" :-)

It sounds like you're doing a great job. If I remember correctly from Psychology classes, lying is a normal phase of development that everyone goes through. So, don't worry about it, as we all do it, even in socially acceptable situations. (Oh yes, I love brussel sprouts. Thanks for cooking for me.)

I agree with the others, as well as you yourself, that you are a good parent. I'm sure this is just a phase.

It kills me when my son lies about stupid little things for no reason, now that he's learned he can control other people's perception of reality. It's frustrating and reassuring at the same time when he, like your daughter, lies about something very easily checked on, so you can catch them good and hammer home the lesson.

Just keep hammering and being honest yourself, and she'll get the idea eventually.

I can completely relate with everything you wrote, but I can't believe for a minute that your ability to be a good parent is slipping! The simple fact that you care enough about this to put so much careful thought into it says that you are a wonderful mother. If anything, you are becoming a better parent every single day because each new situation forces you to face a new challenge and learn something new. I'm sorry to sound all Unicorns and Rainbows, but I really think you are wonderful caring mother, and this post shows it!

Lying is a sign of intelligence.

I'm fucking brilliant, by the way. :)

I often think back of all the times when I was a child and someone told me "you're lying" and felt even a greater urge to continue the lie and get in bigger trouble the more I insisted I wasn't lying... (That cost me a whole YEAR of being grounded during 9th grade - "no, I did not have a huge party at home when you guys were on that vacation and left me with my (equally irresponsible) brother. I am not lying. Really. The neighbors -all of them- must be hallucinating because noone peed from our 6th floor apartment balcony.)

Instead, I tell my children to "think again" when I catch a lie. Not "don't lie" or "you're lying" because that made me feel terrible... "Think again, and tell me what happened. And when you tell the truth, you know I won't be as mad." That usually does the trick. Until they grow up a bit more and I'll have to find another way (I thought of writing "another evil and manipulative way" but changed my mind.)

I had the exact realization recently with my DS- I actually wrote a similar post about it http://blog.gracobaby.com/2008/02/04/the-end-of-an-era/ and how I felt it was sadly a part of growing up. Then I kinda realized it's only a part of growing up if I keep it up (my reactions to his mess-ups) so I feel exactly like you about how we as parents can impact this(a little after-school specialish). It's nice to see someone recognizing the signifigance of even the "little white lies" Thanks for the reminder*

I COMPLETELY understand. I know that when I was a kid, I usually lied because I was trying to avoid the smack or the spanking, unfortunately. We have always told our boys that they can tell us the truth, that lying gets them in more trouble than the mistake they made.

But, a few weeks ago, we caught Nathan lying about dumb stuff, like had he washed his hair in the shower? What upset me most is, like you said, the thought that if it is easy for him to lie now about little things, will he grow up to lie about where he has been and what he has been doing?

We don't spank or hit our kids, so I don't know what trouble he's trying to avoid-having his video game privileges taken away? We try to praise our kids a lot when they tells the truth about something, no matter how small it is, so they'll learn that telling the truth gets them positive attention.

You ARE a good parent, repeat that to yourself, over and over!

My kids are both teenagers, which is when you REALLY want them to feel like they can come to you. What we have always tried to do is make it clear that they will be in far less trouble if they tell us what's going on then if they lie about it. My daughter still confides in me (with the caveat that the girly stuff is not passed on to her father, which he is just fine with), but my son.....well, let's just say we're working on it. We try to show him how lying is making things harder for him, not easier. But usually he's not sorry he lied, he's pissed at us for not believing the lie. We try and we try and the guilt never goes away, but all we can do is love them and try some more.

I don't think there's a single kid out there that hasn't or won't experiment with telling lies. The younger kids don't really understand what a lie is, no matter how well you think you explain it, there's a grey area for everything. Come to think of it there are some adults I know who can STILL justify ANY lie.

First of all, it's developmentally appropriate to lie - she has figured out cognitvely a new level of thinking.
That said, now is the time to teach her abouy lying and telling the truth.
We have always told our son that telling the truth we still may get mad, but not as made as if you lied, lies only make problems bigger. (of course this was over time as he got older).
We even lessoned a punishment a few times to prove to him the benefits of telling the truth, and worsened a consequence to prove the downfall of lying.
Another thing we did was actually lie to our son, and then talked to him how it made him feel.
Lying is a part of growing up. Now is a great time to use it as a teachable moment :)

I can so see this coming. We already get little fibs about having pee-pee or poo-poo at bedtime - always a stalling tactic, but one that she knows we can't ignore.

They're learning how to control their environment, how to manipulate. I think it's normal. Nothing to do with good or bad parenting. At least, I hope not. Otherwise I need to do some serious re-assessing of myself as a mother ;)

It's such a fine line we tread. I can't depend on my gut reactions either, because I wasn't exactly brought up by the most stable people either... but, come to think of it, were any of us?

I'll save you my "advice", because I'm not there yet with my own kiddo. I just want to say that I think you're doing a good job. Better than you give yourself credit.

SciFi -- Q has started to do the same thing at dinner. We've since done potty and everything else possible BEFORE dinner.

It's actually working pretty well.

Funny how they figure that stuff out, though, isn't it!


Our daughters are close in age - and 4 is the age of lying. They are both experimenting with the power of the truth and seeing what they can get away with and we just get to help them in understanding it.

Her attempts at use of deception aren't a reflection of bad parenting they are a sign that she is bright and figuring out a HUGE part of the human dynamic.

It isn't as though it is a black and white issue - social lies, white lies, fibs, whopper lies...she does need to understand all of them.

Isn't it super fun??? :-)

Like my wife just said (eerie when we read/comment within minutes of each other), we're just seeing the start of the lies in our house. We've tried to make it clear that lying isn't acceptable but she's quickly determining what lies we can't prove are lies (for example, when she wants a break during dinner, she'll announce that she has to pee, and that it cannot wait, or that her bum is itchy and needs wiping) as compared to the easily identifiable ones.

FWIW, I don't think either of our daughters lie because of how we react as parents so much as it's an experiment for them to see if it works. (Also, she may have legitimately believed she made her bed... yesterday... and not connected the dots that you meant this morning.)

Yes, my daughter is starting to experiment with lies as well--although she still doesn't fully understand what lying means. It's a tricky stage.

You know what, I think I'm with you on this. I just realized it. Being a good parent is the only thing I want to do well, too. I used to want to do other things well, but now I'm okay with being pretty good at other things, as long as I can excel at parenting.
But, why is it so HARD?

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