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Why Do Kids Lie?

by Kim Ades November 11, 2016

When our kids lie to us, we can learn a lot about them and about our parenting game. Here’s why kids lie to their parents and what it means.

kid lying
I was sitting at my computer, reading client journals, when I received a notification from Facebook that a high school friend liked and followed my company’s Facebook page. His name was Ryan Sparks, and I had not spoken to him since I was 16.

He still remembered me and even took the time to like my page! What a compliment! I sent him a message to say thanks for the follow and to ask how he was doing after all these years. We ended up hopping on the phone to catch up.

After trading updates and filling in the details on all the years that had passed, I took a moment to share my personal “Ryan Sparks” story with him.

I was probably 15 when this incident took place. I was kind of sort of dating a guy in my grade named John. It was an on-again off-again kind of romance with someone who was from “the wrong side of the tracks.” He smoked pot, skipped school and hung out with kids who weren’t particularly interested in their academic achievement.

why kids lie

One day, he came over to my house for a visit. We were kissing in the garage when all of a sudden, my father pulled up into the driveway. I thought I was going to faint. Not only was that type of thing prohibited in my world, but kissing a guy like John was absolute blasphemy!

John did not wait for my father to get out of the car. He grabbed his bike and rode off as fast as he could. My father was livid.

“Who was that?!” he demanded. Without missing a beat, “that was Ryan Sparks,” came my reply.

I lied to my dad. I didn’t want him to prevent me from seeing John, but I was OK if he didn’t want me to date Ryan!

While I don’t really remember any of the other lies I told my parents, I am pretty sure that this was not the only lie I told. And I am also pretty sure that I was not the only kid to lie to my parents.

So why do kids lie?

Kids lie because they don’t want to disappoint their parents.

They lie because they generally seek approval from their parents and know that they will not receive it if they tell the truth.

They lie because they value the relationship they have with their parents and don’t want conflict.

They lie because they are placed on this earth to experiment, to explore and to try things out so that they can understand who they are in the world – but unfortunately that doesn’t always jive with what their parents think is best for them.

They lie because they are driven to live their lives fully and want to do so without parental resistance or even punishment.

When your kids lie to you, ask yourself what you did to make them think that lying was an easier route than telling you the truth. What kind of infrastructure have you created that your kids feel like they have to lie or that you’re only happy with them when they do what you want them to do?

Also ask yourself what kind of relationship you want to build with your kids and whether or not your parenting strategy is getting you there.

A kid who lies to their parents is not a travesty. It’s really an indicator of independent thinking and a desire to experiment with things. It’s an indicator of how important you are in their lives and how much it matters to them that you approve of their actions. It’s also an indicator that you may not be sending the right message to your kids and that perhaps it’s time to change your parenting game.

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