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2 Bumps

How do you deal with lying?

i just caught my 4 year old in a lie!

it was a small one, but still a lie. i told her if she ate all her dinner, she could have strawberries for dessert. she finished her tots & her broccoli, and half of her sloppy joe. the buns are small so this wasnt like a huge meal for her. she eats more than that for lunch at school.

anyway i went to the bathroom when i was finished, and she followed me not 2 seconds later and said she finished it. but then she told me not to look in the trash! sure enough, she threw it away and tried to pull a fast one on me.

i told her now shes not getting any strawberries both because she didnt finish her dinner and because she lied. she then threw a fit and said "i told you not to look in the trash!" i was blown away! i tried explaining to her that if she told me she was full i probably wouldve given her the strawberries, but since she lied now shes definitely not getting any.

she had a screaming fit and went to her room. i cant even talk to her over the screaming so i will let her simmer in there til shes done.

but she makes up little lies like this all the time, and i always tell her that she is in more trouble for lying now and if she had told me the truth it wouldnt have been so bad. her bio-dad was a chronic liar and always made up stories that never happened, and im not saying this is the case with her but im wondering if thats part of it?

how can i get her to feel comfortable enough to tell me the truth? is this a normal 4 year old thing?


Asked by tnm786 at 6:18 PM on Feb. 9, 2011 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 43 (159,608 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (9)
  • with that scenario, yeah it's normal. it's either that or sit at the table screaming that they don't want to eat it because they don't like it. even though they've never tried it. which is what my son is doing right now, as i type. dh just put him in time out for throwing a fit. GL. we'll all need it during the "freaking fours" :)

    Answer by armywife43 at 6:21 PM on Feb. 9, 2011

  • At this age, they still don't always know the difference. The best thing to do is explain that what she told you was not what happened, and that is called a lie. Practice with her by asking her easy questions, like what the color of her shirt is. When she tells you a right answer you say, "Yes, that's the truth." If what you asked was a falsehood, and she told the truth, then you can say, "I said my shirt was green, but it's pink, so green is a lie." This way you begin to demonstrate the difference for her, but until children are 8 they don't have a firm grasp of the concept all the time and their imaginations can be VERY real to them.

    Answer by misses_nick at 6:22 PM on Feb. 9, 2011

  • I didn't say they don't EVER understand when they are wrong or not being truthful. I said they don't ALWAYS, and they don't FULLY understand. This is basic child psychology knowledge.

    Answer by misses_nick at 6:30 PM on Feb. 9, 2011

  • oh, forgot to answer the question. i'd do exactly what you're doing, they're in more trouble for lying..yada're doing a good job :)

    Answer by armywife43 at 6:22 PM on Feb. 9, 2011

  • ha! really? they don't know the concept of lying until they're 8?? yeah. right. i've had the couple of conversations where i ask my child if they have a candy, while they're hiding it behind their back, telling me no, they didn't have one, with the look of terror on their face, cuz they KNOW they're not supposed to have one. and my kids are 2 and 3!

    Answer by armywife43 at 6:28 PM on Feb. 9, 2011

  • My 4 yr old lies a lot. Sometimes he just gets carried away and embellishes true stories, sometimes he mixes up tv with real life. Sometimes he lies to get something/out of trouble.

    It's just an age thing. Explain lying as clear as possible and they will outgrow it. When she's done crying, ask her why she lied and reiterate why she is being punished.

    Answer by lstrickland at 6:46 PM on Feb. 9, 2011

  • 3 and 4 year olds do not understand that they are lying, to them they are telling a story. You should talk to her about the differences between real and make believe and then explain what a lie is and why it is wrong. You did the right thing by not giving her the strawberries but explain what a lie is.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 11:00 PM on Feb. 9, 2011

  • I think all kids no matter what or how you teach them go through a lying stint. My DD went through it too. And we have always had a straight forward approach with her no matter the age, keep in mind we explain things down to her level, but we have always explained what is expected of her why she should not act or be a certain way etc. And then the lying. . . and yes it was always over something silly that had she not lied she would not have even gotten in trouble over. . . like sucking her arm until she had a hickey (*sigh long story there)--this was while she had strep and I wanted to make sure it wasn't a rash of some kind ya know. . . and when asked she said no she did not know how it got there and she did not do it. . . come to find out she did . . .lol. . . anyway.
    Long story short. . . we kept with it, eventually she learned that it is better not to lie. . .

    Answer by Kirs at 6:50 PM on Feb. 9, 2011

  • sorry so long. . . I can be a wind bag. . .lol. . .
    but she finally got it the it NEVER pays to lie. . .and if she just tells us the truth in the first place, ya she might get grumped at but it is better than lying and getting a worse punishment. . .and if it is something little that we can talk out. . . that is even better.

    Answer by Kirs at 6:52 PM on Feb. 9, 2011