As a parent, it can be disappointing and concerning when your child lies. Children lie for various reasons, and understanding the motivation behind their dishonesty can help you respond more effectively. Below, we explore common reasons for lying and offer multiple practical conversation scripts for each scenario to guide your response with children aged 7 and below.

Avoiding punishment

When children lie to avoid getting in trouble, it’s important to focus on the underlying behaviour, offer a chance to make amends and create an open environment for discussing mistakes.

  • For example:
    “I can see you’re worried about getting in trouble. We all make mistakes, and it’s important to be honest. Can you tell me what happened, and we can figure out how to fix it together?”
  • “Sometimes, telling the truth can be a little scary. How can I help you feel more comfortable sharing the truth with me when something goes wrong?”
  • “Everyone makes mistakes, and that’s how we learn. Let’s talk about what happened, and we can handle it together.”

Seeking Attention

Sometimes, children lie to gain attention or recognition. Encourage honesty, praise genuine achievements, and foster open communication about their feelings and experiences.

  • For example:
    “I know you want people to notice you, and it’s important to be honest about your experiences. Let’s focus on the things you’ve really accomplished and celebrate those together.”
  • “I love hearing about your day and what you’ve done. Can you share something that truly happened today that you’re proud of or excited about?”
  • “You don’t need to exaggerate or make things up to get our attention. We’re always here to listen and support you. Let’s talk about how we can better communicate with each other.”

Protecting someone’s feelings

Children may lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Teach them how to be truthful while being kind and considerate, and explore ways to express themselves honestly.

  • For example:
    “It’s important to be honest and also be sensitive to other people’s feelings. Can you think of a way to tell the truth that is gentle and thoughtful?”
  • “I appreciate that you’re trying to be kind, but it’s also important to be honest. How can we share our thoughts and feelings in a way that is both truthful and considerate?”
  • “Sometimes it’s challenging to balance honesty and kindness. Let’s practice together how to express ourselves honestly without hurting someone’s feelings.”

Avoiding a difficult task

Lying can be a way for children to evade a challenging or unpleasant task. Encourage them to face challenges head-on and offer support.

  • For example:
    “I know the task seems hard, and it’s important to be honest about it. Let’s talk about how we can work on this challenge together.”
  • “Sometimes, things can feel too difficult, but it’s better to tell the truth. What part of the task is hardest for you, and how can I help?”
  • “It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by a task, but we should be honest about it. Let’s break it down into smaller steps that you can manage.”

Covering up insecurities

Children may lie to hide their insecurities or feelings of inadequacy. Offer reassurance and emphasise the importance of self-acceptance.

  • For example:
    “It’s okay to feel unsure sometimes, and it’s important to be honest about our feelings. Remember, nobody is perfect, and we love you just the way you are.”
  • “You don’t need to pretend to be someone you’re not. We all have things we’re good at and things we’re still learning. Can you tell me about something you’re proud of and something you’d like to improve?”
  • “Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and that’s what makes us unique. Let’s talk about the things that make you special and the areas where we can work together to help you grow.”


Young minds may blur the lines between reality and imagination. Help them distinguish between the two and encourage creative expression in appropriate ways.

  • For example:
    “I love hearing your creative stories, and it’s important to remember the difference between imagination and reality. Let’s save your stories for playtime or storytelling.”
  • “It’s great that you have a big imagination, but sometimes we need to talk about what really happened. Can you share the true story with me?”
  • “Your stories are so much fun, but when we’re talking about our day or what we’ve done, it’s important to tell the truth. Let’s practice sharing real experiences together.”

By understanding the reasons behind your young child’s lies and using these multiple age-appropriate scripts as a guide, you can address dishonesty more effectively and nurture a trusting relationship. Remember, patience and support go a long way, as young children are still learning and growing. When your little one tells lie, how much empathy and understanding we express can make all the difference. The goal is to foster a relationship where they trust they can tell the truth without judgement or punishment.