7 creative ways to stop your child from lying

All children lie.  Yes, even your little darling will lie to you at some point.  However, some kids struggle with lying more than others.  If you have caught your child lying so many times you can’t remember and you can’t think of anything to get them to stop, try out some of these ideas.  Feel free to print the list off, add your own ideas, or leave feedback on your success.

image 1. 1 minute.  Children who are chronic liars often lie about bad behavior to avoid getting in trouble. If lying is the behavior you want to stop first, try giving them 1 minute.

Tell your child, "You have 1 minute to tell me the truth. If you tell me the truth about something you did bad, you will only receive the known consequence (for example, 2 minutes of timeout – something mild), but if you lie about something you did bad, you will receive the known consequence for the bad behavior (2 minutes of timeout) plus another consequence for lying (something WAY worse).

This works because your chronic liar experiences lying as a way to avoid a consequence. If you reduce the consequence she’s trying to avoid, then her reason for lying is removed.

Explain to your child, if you break the rules, there will always be consequences. But if you LIE, there will be consequences and then even bigger consequences on top of it. So just tell the truth, face the consequence, and move on.  The key here is not punishing your child over a prolonged amount of time. Give them nice, positive attention after they pay their time or consequence. Don’t hold it over their head. Give them a clean slate and more chances to be successful.

image 2. Money.  For $3.50 a week, you may be able to drastically improve your child’s behavior.  Give them 50 cents in the morning (2 quarters). Explain to them that they are being pre-paid for a day of following the rules. If they don’t break any rules, they get to keep the 50 cents.

{You can even make or buy a fun piggy bank so they can save their money. You can simultaneously teach them about saving money by having them pick out something they’d like to buy, write down the price and see how many days it will take them to earn it. }

If they break a rule, they have to give you a quarter (whether they break 1 or more).  If they lie about it, they give you the second quarter.  If they tell the truth, they get to keep their second quarter. This is making them responsible for their own behavior, still punishing them for breaking rules, but rewarding them for telling the truth. If you end up taking the whole 50 cents multiple times, they will become furious with you.

Remind your child that it is their choice, not yours. And also remind them at the end of the day that tomorrow they get a fresh start with another chance. Always focus on the positive.

image 3. Equal Lies.  Create a graph and put it on their door.  On the left side of the graph, label it LIES.  On the bottom of the graph, have 2 columns – your child’s name and Mom/Dad.  When your child tells a lie, start the bar graph and fill it up to one.  Explain to your child that for every lie they tell, you will be telling them a lie. 

This is the eye for an eye concept, and can get very troublesome, so use this one carefully.  For some kids, it only takes one or two lies to learn the lesson.  Some children don’t understand the concept of trust and breaking trust.  By lying to them, you are showing them what it’s like to be lied to.  Instead of talking hypothetically ("how would you like it if I lied to you?") this allows them to truly experience it.

Don’t make your lies big or obvious.  Tell small lies to show that even small lies are hurtful. This can be pretty hurtful to your child, so be sure to follow this up with a good conversation about how much you care about them, how you never want to lie to them, and how you hope they never want to lie to you. Focus on the message that telling the truth (even about the bad stuff) is a way of showing love and respect.

image 4. They Get to Teach.  Pair your child up with a child younger than him/her.  Explain to your child that in __ days they are going to have to teach a lesson (just like the teacher at school).  They will be required to teach the younger child a lesson on telling the truth and lying.  Give them a time limit, and encourage them to make a poster and prepare a speech.  If they don’t know where to begin, create a handout with some ideas for them.  By having your child teach someone else about lying, they will be forced to be the authority on the subject, think creatively, plan ahead, and find an explanation on why lying is bad.  You can videotape or audio record the lesson and show it back to them on days they are struggling with lying.

image 5. Time to Write.  If your child is able to spell and write, it’s essay time.  Each time they are caught in a lie, have them sit down and write an apology to the person they lied to, as well as all the reasons why telling the truth is better.  You can brainstorm these ideas with your child before they ever get in trouble.

6. Choose the Consequence. This one works with almost any behavior you want to end. Explain to your child that you want them to stop lying, but you’ve been struggling to find a consequence that’s serious enough to make them want to stop lying. Explain that you are handing the responsibility off to them.

They get to be the parent on this one. Encourage your child to select a consequence for themselves that will be serious enough so they never want to lie again. Most kids will pick something much more severe than you would have thought. You can even have them sign an agreement stating they will pay the consequence they have selected the next time they lie (that way, you’re not the bad guy next time – they are).

image 7. The Hole Gets Deeper – Telling the Relatives. If you are certain your child is lying, this one is a good way to teach them that lying creates a hole that just gets deeper and deeper until they tell the truth.

When your child is adamant about something you’re certain they’re lying about, have them call their most respected relative (aunt, uncle, grandpa, grandma, etc.) and tell them about it.

For example, if your 10-year-old is saying she has no homework (and you know for a fact that she does) and she just gets upset when you encourage her to tell you the truth – have her give Grandma a call: “Well, since you have no homework, I’m going to call Grandma and let you tell her all about it – especially how happy we all are that you finished your homework at school today.”

Most kids will break at this point. If your kid keeps going with it, let her call Grandma, and then you’re going to call the teacher (or go in to see the teacher the next day). The key is not to back down in the battle for the truth. Once the truth is revealed, she needs to call Grandma and explain to her why she lied (this can be a mortifying experience, and it usually only takes once).


Do you have a creative idea that has worked to get your child to stop lying? Please share them below! Thanks!


  1. Your advice is the best that I have found in my research. Everyone else says the same thing over and over “don’t punish them for the crime, just if they lie” and “don’t ask them a direct question that gives them a chance to lie, just let them know that you know what they did and talk about it”. I’ve got a background in working with children and using behavior modification techniques and most haven’t worked with my step children, who were abused by their mother and stepfather while being in and out of foster care. They have been with us for more than 5 years now and the lying has gotten worse, or more dangerous. I think that #1, 3 and 6 are creative and we’re going to try them. Already tried all the rest and it hasn’t helped at all. The kids are 10 and 11… sigh

    • I hope and pray your situation has improved. Our grandsons have been abused also and this is a challenge EACH AND EVERY DAY. It is almost like a learned behavior to react in an unacceptable way. That truly is what they have been taught. I would like to hear how your children are doing now and any advice on lieing, whining, school work, etch., would be very much appreciated.

  2. We have just gotten our five and seven year old grandsons due to them being removed from the home. They have shown GREAT improvement with stability, structure and being accountable for their actions. We have implemented a “chart” in which at the end of the day they will put stickers themselves on the board for what they HAVE done and at the end of the week they will receive their allowance. If they didnt complete an item or fought with us about it then there is a red X that is put on the week and money is deducted for what they didnt do or fought about doing. This has helped tremendously, but we are still experiencing other behaviors such as lieing. I am going to try to implement some of the suggestions I have read here. They sound to me as though they are full proof and will get the message to them in a healthy manner. Thank you so much

  3. My daughter was lying so we took all electronics away until she finished wriitng “I will always tell the truth and never lie about anything” 500 times. By hand.

  4. I used to be a nanny for some very troubled kids one was 6 his mom gave him no consequences for breaking rules and then when I took the nanny job mom dropped him off at my house and just disappeared for a month and let me tell you the hell that ensued was amazing and the punishment was corner first offense only for as many minutes as he was old and then second offense tv taken away and age appropriate chores were given supervised of course and third offense was get sent to room adult calms down get your cool back before you go in there then sit down talk to the child explain why its wrong and why its dangerous make sure they understand why its wrong before you swat one swat for each year old as well and explain the reason for spanking is because doing bad things can come with painful consequences


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