My kid is a liar.

My son is eight years old and lately he seems to be developing a pattern of lying. It’s not about anything that matters much, either. The current example:

He is staying at his great grandma’s house this summer. On Monday, he developed some odd red marks on his forehead. She was quite concerned: had he gotten hurt at Vacation Bible School, or developed a rash, or been attacked by spiders in the night? He insisted he had no idea how the marks had gotten there. When I picked him up on Wednesday, the marks were still there. I told him flat-out that I know suck-marks when I see them (never mind how I know, I just do!) :wink: I asked him if he had any toys with tubes or suction cups on them and he said, “Yes, my basketball hoop has suction cups but I didn’t stick it to my head!” We joked about it a little, then let it go, but later that day, his other grandma wrung the truth out of him. He did stick the suction cups to his head, but according to him, he didn’t lie to Great Grandma because he wasn’t sure it caused the marks, and he didn’t lie to me because he didn’t stick the whole basketball hoop to his head, just the suction cups. :dubious: Why did he lie? No one knows.

Anyway, the last time he got caught telling one of these ridiculous little lies, I made him write sentences. The time before that, he was grounded from TV, computers, video games, anything with a screen. Obviously that didn’t work. I have not yet punished him for telling the current lie, because I had him for such a short time before I had to return him to Grandma’s house. However, I’ll be getting him back this weekend, and I let him know that something dire will happen then. The problem is, I don’t know what to do about this, other than call him “Hickey-head” for a while.

Do you kids lie about absolutely nothing? And what do you do about it?

I’ll have to ask my brother if they did anything in particular with my nephew - he went through a phase of lying/exaggerating, although he was a little younger, around 5.

His were somewhat more serious than sticking things to his head and then ‘not knowing’ what cause the marks, though - for example, he’s very fair and just brushing the wall would leave a mark on him. We had to stop having him over to our house for a while because something like that would happen, and he’d claim our dog snapped at him and grazed him with a tooth, causing the mark, even if we were right there in the room watching both him and the dog and knew full well nothing of the sort was going on. We got concerned that he’d eventually try to claim the dog actually bit him, and my SIL, who is completely batshit anyway, would have us in court to get Mojo put down or something.

Nowadays (he just turned 9) they say he just ‘grew out of it,’ but now I’d kind of like to know if they did actually address it, or if it was just another piece of my brother’s ‘I’m a cop, so my kid won’t do anything wrong/I live in complete denial’ syndrome.

What your kid is doing is a prime example of “child logic” – a kid will torture the facts and make unfathomable distinctions anyway possible to be right or truthful (so will most adults, but that’s a different topic.)

My wife’s technique of dealing with this resembles Captain Kirk destroying the alien computers on Star Trek. She continues to ask questions (never a declarative sentence, always questions) that tear away at the story until she finally gets to the essential truth.

Of course my wife is an elementary school teacher. She has a much higher tolerance for dealing with 40 irrational statements in a row than I do.

And that sounds about right. Here’s my possibly worthless theory:

Up to a couple of years ago, you were all-powerful and all-knowing. Lately your son has begun to figure out that you can’t be quite all that, and he’s begun testing a little bit, probing, trying to find out exactly where these incomprehensible powers end. That’s why the lies are inconsequential: he doesn’t want to cause any harm, he just wants to figure out how his world works. This is a good thing. Obviously, it could lead to bigger problems later, but it doesn’t have to. For one thing, your son is also learning how important truth is in his relationships. He’s also formulating a calculus (even if he doesn’t know it yet) that will inform his strategy the next time he’s faced with trouble. If you show him that you value truth by rewarding it, even as you punish an offense, he may learn that honesty is a quality that will stay with him and be valued through and beyond any transient transgressions. I’m trying to teach my kids that while, say, redecorating their room with magic markers and leftover spackling compound will bring consequences, being truthful and brave when facing those consequences makes me very proud of them indeed. You may also want to embroider the phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff” somewhere prominent. If minor sins are punished in major ways, the cost-benefit ratio for lying only looks that much more attractive.

I’m pretty sure you’re doing a great job, and your son is a fine boy. These pointless little lies disturb you, I think in part, because they’re pointless, and that may be causing you to make them more important than they are.

One tactic, mentioned by kunilou, is to make your son talk through his story with non-confrontational questions until it collapses. This will reinforce the notions that you value truth, that you may not be omniscient but you’re still close enough for all practical purposes, and that lying is just too much work to be worthwhile.

Good luck!

My son, who is also 8, could lie for the Olympics.

I have no idea why, it is usually some tall story from school that he has no need to tell me, and could possibly make me cross, anyway.

He lies about everything from whether he has peed or brushed his teeth, to the little bird which landed on his head on the way home from school.

To deal with his school stories, I have pointed out that if he tells me something that is dangerous, even if it involves other kids (he seems to pick two names constantly, and makes a kind of soap opera out of it!), then I will HAVE to call the school. That has shut him up from the worst of it. The rest, if I am in a bad mood I will tell him I am simply unwilling to listen to any of it.

If I am in a more accommodating mood (after all, he seems to have to have some need to tell these tall stories - maybe his own life is really boring to him!) then I listen till it gets ludicrous, then I laugh, and tell him he’s got a really good story-teller’s skill. He gets miffed because he wants me to believe him, but I am not willing to go along with it that far. I do this with the “a bird landed on my head” stories, too - often adding that it would be nice if such things really did happen.

When it comes to personal grooming and other essential stuff, I have made sure to allow enough time to send him back again, and again, and again, for as many times as it takes for him to actually do it. He can never understand how I know he hasn’t brushed his teeth, or flushed, or washed his hands, or done his homework! I’m a genius, I tells ya!

In short, I think that so long as it is not really bad lies (denying a broken or damaged something or someone, blaming another person, or making up stories that could get someone else into trouble) then the best course of action is to make it clear you know the kid is in fantasy land, and then let it go.

But it is VERY oogy, I admit. Sometimes I want to yell and scream LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE! So far I have resisted…

I think kids his age are prone to embellishing and inventing stories. At school, their friends probably tell them stories like this…a popular kid might brag, for example, about how he defeated the latest video game, and make up some story about what happened when he made it to the end. My little brother often shares something that a friend told him, and I will point out to him that I think his friend was making it all up.

I think your kid probably likes the attention he gets from telling stories, and asking him too many questions about inconsequential lies might encourage him even more. I’d suggest that you let him know you have doubts about his story, and then leave it at that. Eventually, he will learn to question the stuff his friends are telling him too.

I think you should thrash him within an inch of his life!

Alternatively, encourage him to grow out of it.

Friends of my wife had a similar problem with their grandson (a bit younger than eight, I think). They told him that, if he told lies, his nose would grow like Pinocchio’s.

One day, he’ll be really embarrassed to be reminded of the days when he told a lie and put his hand to his nose to see if it was growing longer. :smiley:

Yep. The little bastid did this when he was around that age as well. I have no clue WHY he felt compelled to lie about the most mundane things but I can assure you that he did. He wasn’t a fanciful teller of tales like Hokkaido Brit’s son but he would consistently lie about tooth brushing, bath taking and homework working. :rolleyes: Even when we were standing in front of the table that he didn’t wash off after supper, he’d continue to lie. I would get totally pissed but it didn’t help a bit.

He’s 24 now and is a very honorable man. I don’t believe he continued to lie after that “stage” (which lasted a few years, by the way).

Good luck and patience on you, my friend. I am sooo glad to have survived that part of his adolescence.

Thanks for all the wise words. I’m taking all of them into consideration (well, except for thrashing him within an inch of his life.)

Please, more stories about your little liars! They’re cheering me up immensely! :smiley:

My four year old is just starting this part of his journey. At this point, it’s of the “to get out of trouble” variety for the most part. His twelve year old sister and the dog have apparently been very busy doing some naughty things. Even when one is in school and the other is asleep behind a chair. The twelve year old will still try the same tactic, but it’s “denial” up and down. (Insisting, with a mouthful of Oreo’s, that she hasn’t had a thing since she brushed her teeth…How did I know???)
My kids are told they will get in trouble for breaking the rules, but they’ll get in twice the trouble for lying about it. With tall tales type stuff, it’s usually more attention-seeking and trying to exert some control over their life. "It might not have happened, but it could have, if I could just have my own way for once. " And I used to respond something along the lines of “Well, that would be fun if it happened, but we both know it didn’t. You need to remember to add that it’s what you’d like to have happen.” And then just change the topic of conversation. When they get to the point of trying to get others in trouble, or things that could result in danger, then call them on their bluff, as Hokkaido Brit said. Tell him you are going to call the school, parents, etc cause what he’s saying needs to be addressed if it’s true.
Kids know lies are wrong. Keep reinforcing that and I’m sure he’ll grow out of it. And remember this when he’s a teenager and wants to dye his hair green. There’s always something.

My eight year old is a liar also. She used to be so trustworthy and eager to please.

She is starting to make up stories that become increasingly unbelievable the longer she tells them Nothing outrageous but just not really logical. She lies about the stupidest stuff. Just yesterday morning I found out that she hadn’t been taking her medicine for the past few days and had been pouring it into a milk carton she had decorated at school. She lied to my face and told me she just liked to look at the carton while she drank her medicine. Little brat. My reaction was not good at all, I really lost my temper.

It’s beginning to affect our relationship because I don’t know when to believe what she tells me about school. It’s hard to stick up for her to her teacher’s if I can’t believe her side of the story. And it’s really aggravating to have to sit and watch her take her medicine instead of just being able to trust her to take it. Plus her personal hygiene is getting worse becuase she’s lying to me about brushing her teeth and washing in the shower/bath. Just when she should be at the age when I can give her more freedom (and I had been) she’s making me treat her like a baby.

Aaaargh! This is so frustrating!

Shhhhhhhhhh, mornea. Sometimes it’s all *about * making sure you will treat her like a baby, when necessary. Sometimes it takes a safety net to get us to fly through the air on the highest trapeze, and any intelligent child would test the net once or twice, now wouldn’t she? An eight-year-old who can tell fantastic stories? What a wonderful parent you must be. Keep rewarding the truth more than you punish the transgression, and keep on doing it, and you’ll end up with a girl who may not seem to listen to you, but who will always imitate you. Which, from what I can see, would be a very good thing.

Heh! I love threads like this. Not only does it confirm my happiness in not being likely to ever have children, but it reminds me why this board is highly unlikely to ever have an influx of parents of “indigo children”.

raises hand I was an eight-year-old liar.

Honestly, what changed me, and I’ll not forget it? I had two older brothers whom I idolized. One day, when I was around ten and still not out of the lying thing, one of my brothers took me out to the park and we had a decent afternoon of things. On the way home, he simply explained to me that lying for attention / lying for no real good reason was terminally uncool. I took the lesson to heart.

Add it to the list of things to mention at his wedding. :stuck_out_tongue:

WeePundit went through a lying phase a few years back. After fruitless discussions about the merits of telling the truth, blah, blah, blah, we finally tackled the problem by becoming liars ourselves.

“Guess what? After dinner, we’re going to go out for ice cream sundaes.”

We’d tell her this all day. Then when she went and got her shoes on, we’d break it to her.

“Ice cream? Oh, no. We weren’t really going to get ice cream. We were lying to you.” When she complained and cried, we’d say, “Now you know how we feel when you lie to us. It’s not much fun.”

The next few days we alternated between telling the truth and lying. You’ve set the trap. Because eventually they’ll break down and ask the million dollar question: “How am I supposed to know when you’re telling the truth?”

That’s when you say to them, “Exactly. And THAT’S the problem with lying. It’s not the little lie here or there. It’s that we can’t TRUST you anymore.”

This is the sort of happy ending I’m aiming for. The punishment thing doesn’t really seem to work. I’m worried about the lying, sure, but my heart’s not really into making a federal case out of this one.

Now, me, I didn’t tell lies at that age. No sir. That was my brother trying to make me look bad. I swear!

Then my advice would be to find someone they idolize to tell them about it. :slight_smile:

(Side note- saw said brother today. No longer idolize him, but he’s still pretty cool.)