3 Parenting Tips for When Kids Lie

One of our Facebook fans wrote, “Is lying about brushing your teeth something to drop for my 11-year-old son? As we are pressing into the teenage years I am questioning what is worth not letting go because it is still lying which I don’t want to condone.”

Lying is unacceptable and wise parents don’t ignore it or condone it. Here are some things that can make these lying moments, teaching moments – reducing power struggles, and building a stronger bond between the parent and child.


Very few humans, including adults, are like young George Washington in the cherry tree story. Most people, including children, tend to lie to protect themselves. If the youngster didn’t brush his teeth, and the parent asks, “Did you brush your teeth?” the answer will probably be a lie. So, why ask in the first place?

A better approach might be to say, “I hope you’re protecting your teeth by brushing. I’ve been a little worried for you since I pay for the good dentist reports and you pay for the bad ones. I hope you get a good report from the dentist.”

And yes, a Love and Logic parent would have the child pay for the bad report. We don’t make hollow threats. Remember that sincere empathy precedes the consequence. “How sad, a bad dentist report. Do you want to use your allowance money or what? Could you use a hug?”


In the event that a child tells a lie, the generic Love and Logic consequence, called the “Energy Drain” technique, can be used.

For example: “Son, I know that you lied to me about talking back to your teacher. That’s not acceptable in this family. I spent a long time on the phone talking with your teacher about your behavior, and didn’t get my own work accomplished. I’ll let you know later how you can replace the time and energy I used up dealing with this.”

This boy can do some housework to replace the parent’s “drained energy.”

#3. Don’t Accuse, “Feel” Instead

One thing that the handout below misses, is what Foster Klein always stresses: Unless you can prove the lie, you never accuse. Instead, say something like: “Suzie, it feels like you are not being truthful with me.” If you say, “You are lying to me or you are not telling the truth” then as the parent you have lost power. Most children will most-likely say they are not lying. If you say it “feels like” the child cannot prove YOUR feelings. Foster outlines all the details to the “It feels like” approach in this Love and Logic® CD that I highly recommend. This is good stuff and so much better for the relationship between you and your child!

Here is a great outline about how to deal with lying, cheating, and stealing with kids. Thanks for reading, and remember that the child will always test the limits, so it’s your job is to enforce them.

The Parent is the Expert

I have countless stories about how great parents were faced with difficult problems with their child – medical issues, learning challenges, and behavioral issues seem to be the top three. In a lot of the cases, a parent was told by a professional to go in one direction, but overtime trusted their gut and led their child in the right direction. If not, often times the parent ends up adjusting the professional’s direction to best meet their child’s need.

From my point of view, I think we as a society are “professionalizing” all parts of our lives. If we have a need, we want to look to the professional. However, when it comes to your child – as the parent, YOU are the expert. There is no one who knows your child better than you. So, I encourage you to trust your gut. If you think something is medically wrong with your child, seek out the help you need and don’t stop until your gut is satisfied. Moms and dads, if you are dealing with behavior problems, seek out the help you need:

  • Parenting support: classes and coaching do wonders!
  • Tutors for the individual focus.
  • Occupational Therapy for sensory integration problems
  • Speech therapy: if a child can’t communicate, frustration is high.
  • Parent Child Interaction Training (PCIT) is a helpful approach to strengthen the bond and sharing control.
  • Natural Paths: this is a great resource for chronic issues like food sensitivities and gluten intolerances.

Any other ideas you want to add to this list of professional resources?

The bottom line is, a good parent seeks help from the professionals. A great parent will direct that process to fit their unique child.

Here are some Practical Tips on Tailoring any Parenting “Program” to Your Individual Child

I love Love and Logic® because the goal isn’t to completely take over the household, but to give the parent(s) the tools that can help them build on the strengths they already have.

I am a certified Parent Coach and a Love and Logic® facilitator. If you are struggling with an area in the relationship with your child, please contact me and we can figure out if Parent Coaching is a fit for you.

Appreciative Inquiry in Parenting Can Improve Academic Success

I recently had a mother ask me about how to help her son with homework. With deep concern in her voice she told me about how her 11 year old son showed her his homework. She went on to say that it was full of spelling errors and she asked him “did you even use a dictionary to look up any of these words?” She continued to describe how he just got mad and walked away.

My heart broke for both the mom and child. But I also could see how much this mom wanted to support her son. She is a good mom. For one thing, she was at a parenting class, that in itself tells me she really wants to be the best mom possible.

I told her for the rest of the school year; only comment of the good things in the homework. Had she read the paper just for the value of noticing the good stuff, it would have been a great academic moment.

There is a tool called Appreciative Inquiry that really put legs under this idea. Appreciative Inquiry is primarily an organizational development method, which focuses on increasing what an organization does well rather than on eliminating what it does badly. David Cooperrider is generally credited with coining the term “Appreciative Inquiry”.

Used within parenting, it is also a great tool. Simply give positive feedback to your child. Don’t even talk about the negatives. Just the positives and stand back and watch how the negatives go away.

I am excited to hear back from this mom. I hope to hear that not only did his academic performance improve but most importantly, the relationship between parent and child also improved. It is always better for a parent to focus on their relationship with their child then their child’s academics.

How Parents Can Respond to a Needy Child and Build Their Self Control

Here is a great question I received from a mother of a 3-year-old girl:

Help needed: In the last few months, have noticed a growing trend. After we put her to bed…the “requests”…rather the “demands” begin. “MOMMY!!! MOMMMY!!! MMMMMMOOOOOOMMMMYYYYY!!!”

At first it was simple stuff that’s easy to fix…”I have to pee.” I thought I fixed the issue by stopping at the bathroom right before bed. But the demands persist and I think it’s just a symptom of not wanting to “break the emotional ties” for the day. So how or what do I feed her emotionally before bedtime, since we’ aren’t really breaking ties, just letting them rest, but how do I “do” that with her so her little heart knows that. Our routine consists of bath, books, rocking/singing and back, arm, leg scratching, and prayers.

Parents, Think Needs vs. Wants

We always meet needs because that creates and maintains the attachment we have with our child. Here is a great scholarly article that outlines the developmental stages of Needs and Wants. I like this article because it has a lot of research cited and great topic areas to focus in on.

When we have a want we set limits against it. By setting a limit, you are helping her develop self-control. In fact it is the only way self-control develops.

How to Set Limits Against Wants

Give her your expectations for bedtime with choices embedded with in them: Researchers recommend that parents and teachers work in close collaboration to help preschoolers learn emotional regulation through consistent rules and expectations.

“I am happy to read to you, cuddle, etc… but when the stories are done it will be quiet time and sleep, would you like two stories or three?” (Notice the Choice).

When all is done, walk out and say ” time for quiet time and sleep.” When she calls for you, NO response. If it escalates, go in and say, “It is quiet time. If I have to come back in here again it will be an energy drain (handy outline) for mama tonight.

Impact Parenting also has an online resource to teach how to use Energy Drain to bring a calm, consistent consequence.

How Do I Respond to My Needy Child?

The key to answering this great question is to determine:

  1. Is this a need or want? Dr. Foster Klein with Love and Logic® always says, “When in doubt, err on the side of meeting the need.” But if you think it is a want. Then set the limit. By the way, you gut always knows if it is a need or want. Go with your gut.
  2. Set limits with calmness, consistency. Be sure to be clear about your expectations, give as many choices as possible to share control and them follow through with actions. If things escalate, use Energy Drain.

You might also be interested in:

Sick Child Care – Need vs Want

Responding to Disrespect

Rule for Sleep