Do Parents Unknowingly Teach Their Children To Lie?

It can be extremely painful to find that your child lies. But what’s even worse is to know that we unknowingly teach our children to lie and here at Calm Sage we are ready to address the same. Whether it is parents unknowingly teaching their children to be dishonest or parents teaching their children to lie to other parents, this blog answers all your questions.

Last Update on June 30, 2021 : Published on June 30, 2021

“Honestly is the best policy.” Heard of this phrase before? I’m sure you did, as from the very start HONESTY has been one of the primary virtues required in adults and instilled in the young ones.  We as parents always try to educate our children on the importance of telling the truth, don’t you agree?

But did you ever think that no one else but YOU could be the reason behind your child’s dishonesty? Sounds totally bizarre right?! Read on to learn where you might’ve gone wrong.

[ Also Read: Authoritative Parenting Style: An Approach Towards Positive Reinforcement ]

Parents teach their children to lie, often unintended. Oh yes! It’s true and you are not alone who could be unknowingly doing this. All of us at some point have unknowingly pushed our child towards dishonesty. When you come to think of it, nobody’s perfect and lies are that little spot on the moon that we know is present which we do not wish to erase.

We often make use of that little white lie to be polite, or to protect our loved ones, or maybe to maintain peace. But a child’s innocence inhibits him/her to have an understanding of a constructive or destructive lie. For them dishonestly might just be a tool to get what they want.

What Cause A Child to Lie?

According to various researches, children and adults lie for almost similar reasons. Here are some reasons why our children may lie to us.

1. FEAR:

Fear is one of the main reasons that evoke dishonesty in children as well as adults. The fear of punishment and embarrassment often push us towards lying. Being harsh with your children and making them believe that mistakes are a big NO and if they ever make one they’ll be punished. This behavior instills fear in a child.

It is very important for us to make our children realize that making mistakes is not wrong but not correcting them is. Helping them identify the problem rather than bashing them right away.

Always try to understand where your child in coming from. Try to keep their point of view in mind so that you never make your child fearful of you. Yes! Punishments are important but not to an extent that you drift your child away from you. Judge the situation correctly and respond accordingly and always give your child the space to correct the mistakes.


Children are usually driven by their ‘wants’. They are not always logical and might avoid telling you the truth to satisfy their wants. They will lie because they might find it easier to get want they desire.

They function on the pleasure principle which simply put is, “I want what I want and I will do anything to get what I want”. Basically, the child will not think twice before lying if he/she wants something. Since wants are mostly baseless and by lying, the irrational want gets a base.


Children is school often seek attention or are in a constant search of approval of their peers. The driving force behind lying for attention/approval is the fear of being ridiculed by their peers. Exaggeration is the most common form of lies in such a situation.

[ Also Read: Parent’s Guide To Tame Temper Tantrums of Kids | Your Doable Action Plan ]

How is a Parent Teaching a Child to Lie?

1. Parents are Role models:

Children often duplicate parent’s actions and behavior. Modeling is the most common method used by children to learn in their growing years. As parents, we have to be good role models for our children because our actions are the first thing that our children pick up from us.

For instance; you’re running late for office and you have to drop your child to school. So you call up your office and lie about being late saying that “you’re stuck in traffic” or “your car broke down” or “your child is unwell”. Does that ring a bell?  You must have at some point of time made such an excuse in front of your child and that’s exactly where we went wrong.

Your child observed that you lied to get away from a situation and if you as parents are doing it, it is okay for them to do it too. They noticed that by lying you avoided punishment/embarrassment and that they can avoid it too. Here is How Parents unknowingly motivate their Child to Lie.

2. Expecting your children to never make mistakes:

As humans we make mistakes and that’s how we learn. We should let our children make mistakes and learn from them rather than expecting them to be perfect and never make mistakes. Your child is not a computer that you can just feed in command and expect the correct response.

For e.g. Emily ate candy and left the wrapper on the table. Now Nina, Emily’s mother can react in two different manners. One might encourage lying and the other might lead her to be honest.

1. In the first situation Nina scolded Emily for leaving the wrapper on the table and also cut her candy supply for a week as her punishment. This will develop the fear of punishment in a child and to avoid the punishment the child will rely on lies to avoid punishment/confrontation.

2. In the second situation Nina tells Emily that leaving the wrapper on the table is wrong and that she shouldn’t repeat it again. Nina encourages Emily by telling her that she’ll get an extra candy every time she puts the wrapper in the dustbin. This way the child is not afraid of making mistakes rather starts to believe that mistakes can be corrected. The fear of telling the truth and falling in trouble goes away. Hence, the child doesn’t find the need to lie.

3. Overly Strict Parenting:

Setting boundaries and rules in a child’s life is important. But keeping no space for negotiation and exception pushes the child towards lying. Being overly strict with the child makes him/her believe that you’re going to reject the child’s request. That feeling encourages the child to lie.

A very common example of the same is when your child wants to spend a night at a friend’s place and you being a rule-abiding strict parent are naturally going to ask your child to stay at home.

In this case the next time your child will not even bother to seek your permission, they might just wait for you to go to bed and then just leave from the window and return before you wake up in the morning. Whereas if you make room for negotiations and exceptions your child might not need to lie to you about his/her plans.

4. Asking your child to lie for you:

Sometimes we are stuck in a situation where the only way of getting out of it is by lying. Have you ever asked your child to lie to someone at the door or phone about you being in the shower/ have gone to run some errant, etc.?

Well, that’s exactly how the child starts to believe that lying is easier than admitting the truth.

How To Prevent The Unintended Coaching of Your Child to Lie?

There are various ways and means by which you can avoid misleading your child and you can save your child from falling into the trap of a lie.

  • Become a role model of honesty
  • Encourage telling the truth regardless of any reward
  • Try and find the cause behind the lie your child is telling you
  • Give a warning before giving punishment
  • Reinforce honestly more often than punishing lies
  • Discuss natural consequences of lying and dishonesty
  • Do not label or ridicule your child for lying

You can always check out different Styles Of Parenting And Their Impact On Children


Children lie and so do adults. Teaching your children the virtue of honesty is very important. We as parents are role models for our children and it’s our duty to be very careful of our conduct. Parents teaching their children to lie is a very common issue that needs to be addressed.

There are situations where unknowingly parents teach their children to lie to other parents or in some way or the other coach their children to lie which can have adverse effects.

I hope this blog helped you to get all the information you needed. Now you know where you can go wrong so take care that you are not the reason behind a lying child.

Remember you are not alone.

Do tell us how useful this blog was and feel free to drop in feedback.

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Take care! Stay safe!

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  1. Dr CP SINGH

    It was self explanatory Well said Very informative educative wright up Good luck

  2. Sushma

    Nicely explained .. Keep it up 👍

  3. Devika Sharma
    Devika Sharma

    Nice post. Very informative 🙌

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