What Do You Do When Your Child Lies About Everything?

Author of 4 books, podcaster, parent trainer, wife and mother.

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Lying. It's so frustrating to deal with as a parent. We want to engage, and battle until we can squeak the truth out of our children. But it's often futile. How do we respond, and what can we do, when our children constantly lie?

“Did you take the cookie?” – Child shakes his head no, while holding the cookie.

“Did you text that boy from school, that dad and I asked you not to text?” – Teenager’s eyes go wide as she swears on her life she didn’t.

“Did you just hit your brother?” – Child denies the claim even as a red hand-shaped welt forms on his brother’s bare back.

“But, I didn’t get a ‘C’ in math.”

“I’m not drinking out of this cup.” (that I’m holding in my hand.)

“That’s not my book bag. I know it has my name on it, but it’s not mine.”

Humans avoid getting in trouble at all costs. It’s in our nature. When we have a consistent trusting relationship with the adults in our lives, we usually begin to determine which things are worth lying about. I stopped lying about cookies in elementary school but I still fudged the truth as a teenager about where I was going with my friends. I grew out of that and matured into an adult who only occasionally lies to the stranger in the salon who is wondering if her new trendy hair cut looks good. Lying isn’t uncommon but with children from trauma, the lying often makes no sense and trying to have an everyday conversation can be disheartening and infuriating.

To the best of your ability, take away the possibility of a lie. Our post adoption counselor gave us this advice when we were confronted with this issue years ago I didn’t want to heed her advice because I thought that my children should just learn to tell the truth. It turns out that she was right. It is our child’s misplaced fear of survival causing the lying. Once I learned that, I could see the lie differently. I began to change my question to a statement. “You are not in trouble. I’m not mad. I have your grade card in my hand and I see that you got a ‘C’. I already talked to your teacher, and we are going to do some tutoring before school.”

When you phrase the statement in a matter of fact way, the child should realize safety and respond accordingly, right? Sorry, it doesn’t change that fast. It will take time. You may tell your child, you have their grade card in your hand and they may still respond by denying the grade or lying about turning in missing assignments. Here’s where it get’s tricky. Do not go down the winding road of survival brain with your child. Stick to the facts, reassure, and stop the conversation if necessary until they can calmly talk about the facts.

Be consistent in monitoring your child. If you know that they are stealing from other children at school, take away the backpack and sew up pockets. Then check every day to see if they are doing the right thing. Do not ask, “Did you steal?” Tell, “I found this lego person that I know doesn’t belong to you, we will go together tomorrow to return it.”

Be gentle with yourself. Your child’s trauma response isn’t about you. You are a good parent for helping them through it. If you fail at handling the lying properly, admit it and try again tomorrow. Extend yourself the grace that you need to dust off and try again.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.