What to do when children lie

Children usually lie for two reasons; to get attention or to get out of trouble, says Dr Noel Swanson, child psychiatrist. Sometimes they make up stories, like saying they live next to a famous pop star, in order to impress people.

Find out if your child feels her life is lacking in some way, says Dr Swanson, or whether she feels she has to make things up in order to get friends. Explain that if people are real friends, they’ll like you for what you are. Also say that if you don’t tell the truth, you’re letting yourself down because you’re not being true to yourself.

Be consistent

* You might laugh when your toddler tells you she hasn’t pinched that chocolate biscuit when it’s smeared all over her face – but she’ll get confused if you get angry when she tells a different little lie next time.
* Don’t get mad, even if it’s a big lie, or they could be scared to tell the truth in the future.
* Ask why they didn’t tell the truth and listen to the answer – you might learn something.
* Don’t believe everything you hear from other people – check out the facts before you jump to conclusions that your child is lying.