Kids lie. It is a simple fact that, at some point in your life as a parent, you will be lied to by your child. In fact, it will probably happen several times, in several different ways and for a multitude of reasons.
The following is an age by age guide for why kids lie, and what kinds of lies they tell:
Age 0-2: As soon as your child starts to talk, they start to lie. These are lies that benefit them, and they do not usually realize these lies are wrong. These are the denying they did something that they clearly did, such as coloring on the walls with crayon, or saying they did something they didn’t do to get what they want, such as saying they finished their vegetables in order to get dessert. Kids age 0-2 lie to improve their world. If they are playing and having fun, they may lie about being in a stinky diaper simply because they do not want their play interrupted, not because they do not want you to know the truth.
Age 3-5: At this stage, your child will lie because it is more fun than the truth. They will make up stories and embellish the truth then claim their fibs to be true to the last breath, simply because their lies are more interesting than the truth. For example, you may leave your husband with your kids for the night and ask him to fix something for dinner. If you ask your preschooler what their dad fed them for dinner, he or she might say, “We had ice cream sundaes with lots and lots of whip cream, cherries and even chocolate chips.” You can ask them repeatedly and they will stick to their story. This is usually an indication of wishful thinking or that they find joy in play of this kind. At this age, they lie to get reactions from you and to live in their imaginary world.
Age 6-9: At this stage in your child’s life they start to tell lies in order to spare feelings. They may tell you that the food you made was yummy, even if they hated it. They recognize that “white lies” are easier to utter than handling your disappointment. They lie to avoid problems, to spare feelings and to get past the conversation. In addition, they may lie to avoid stressful situations. This might mean that they tell you they do not have any homework because their assignment that night is difficult and they do not understand it. Rather than admit they don’t get it, they strive to avoid it all together.
Age 10-12: At this stage, lies start to become more frequent, as they are often more convenient than the truth. If you say they can play when their homework is done, and their friends are heading out to the mall, they may lie and tell you it is complete so they can join their friends. Then they finish it when they get home. They also lie to avoid disappointing you or facing consequences. These are “who did this?” lies; they may also lie about a grade or test score.
Age 13 and older: Usually by the time your kid is a teen, they lie only to benefit themselves. They worry less about others and are more self absorbed; they lie to improve their situation, get themselves out of trouble or secure something they want.