10yr old and lying

My 10yr old son is lying a lot.. and I'm not sure how to respond.  He often tells us that he's brushed his teeth, washed his face, etc.. when it's clear that he hasn't.  It seems like he just wants to get us off his back.. or continue doing whatever he's doing. 

I understand the lying around stuff he's worried about getting in trouble for, like hitting his brother, or breaking something.  But I don't understand when he tells his music teacher that he's practiced 5 times that week.. bald-faced lie.  When I ask him about it, he insists that it's true and gets mad and defensive. 

I've had serious talks with him about the importance of being honest and trustworthy.  This appears to have done nothing.  Has anyone else dealt with this successfully? 

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RE: 10yr old and lying ()

Wow, this totally resonates with me.  My son is a teenager now and still has this problem.  He gets so angry when I confront him about the lies that it really feels like he actually believes what he's saying. I think a lot of it has to do with insecurity or low self-esteem. He creates this magic persona that he wishes he was (a straight A student, sports star, etc.) and lies to support it.  I think it's also partly a reaction to the fact I'm pretty demanding and controlling, unfortunately.  I don't have any great advice for you, except try not to be demanding or controlling? Frankly, punishments and consequences haven't worked that well for us.  

RE: 10yr old and lying ()

This is not meant to be alarming, but here it goes: Resonates here too, and I wish I would have taken more immediate and appropriate measures because that was among the first signs I saw that something was truly wrong with my son's thought processes. Starting at age 10, he'd make things up for absolutely no reason ("I had an apple for snack" I had never asked what he had for snack and there wasn't an apple in the house), as well as was harming his brother, refusing to attend school or leave the house, and ignoring all personal hygiene. I thought this was "just a stage", and looked up that the best approach is to make sure that there is nothing to lie about. We tried counseling but he just refused to go. At this point he was hiding his extreme distress, most likely due to fear.

Fast forward a few years, he has been away for more than a year in hospitalizations and residential treatment for depression, anxiety, homicidal and suicidal ideation, mood-related psychosis, and just recently discovered ASD. To say that this is hell would be to put it VERY lightly.

If I had it all to do again, I would have him assessed by BOTH the school district and the medical provider for ALL disabilities you can possibly think of and get moving now on treatment if the assessments reveal a disability/ies. 

What I've discovered is that when kids hit about this age, the rules, clues and cues become so much more subtle and it is expected that they will just catch on or have already figured out how to navigate the social/emotional world. The kids on the spectrum and other related disabilities start to level out or regress in their social/emotional development and then their behavior becomes affected because they know they are not understanding the world in the same way that their peers are. It's frustrating and alienating. True, punishments and consequences don't work with kids on the spectrum.

Good luck. Get him help through expert clinical evaluations and go through the proper school district channels and procedures (see DREDF to start) to get funded for supports if needed. I miss my son so much.

RE: 10yr old and lying ()

Stop putting him on the spot. Don't ask if he brushed his teeth; go in the bathroom together and brush teeth together. Tell the teacher to ask you about practicing, not him. Most people will lie if they are put on the spot. 

RE: 10yr old and lying ()

My family went through this with our oldest daughter.  What worked for us was to focus less on the lying and more on the behavior at issue.  So, focus on brushing teeth, washing face, etc.  With my daughter, we sat down and talked about the behaviors and asked her to help figure out a plan.  Like, "We all need to brush our teeth, so what can you do to make sure you are taking care of this?" Usually my daughter's suggestions were more restrictive than what we would have come up with.  We also talked about consequences and had her help identify what would happen if she didn't do whatever we were addressing.  The model was a problem solving one rather than a rule following one with all of us on the same team.  The only time the lying came up was when she would ask for something that required us to trust her, then we would address the impact of the lies on our trust, and figure out what she could do to help us trust her again.  I would also encourage you to think about what is really worth a power struggle.  I'm pretty sure my kids went through long periods of time not taking care of personal hygiene, and they are reasonably healthy, presentable kids with friends who don't mind being around them.  But, then again, they had no major dental/health issues.  Good luck!  I remember how hard it was to deal with my daughter lying until I figured out a way to deal with it that felt right to me.

RE: 10yr old and lying ()

I have an 8 year old that we've experienced similar things with. Like you, I totally get why he night lie to get out of trouble, but why tell your teacher you're feeding your (non-existent!) pet every day? Any why, when you get a disappointed talking-to when you don't drink enough water, would you tell me you didn't drink anything today when you actually drank a whole bottle of water? That's a lie to get INTO trouble when you actually did something well!

We take a 2 pronged approach because we want to teach and reinforce the behavior we want, demonstrate the very real life consequences of people not trusting you when you lie, AND we know that for our kid, acting out is most often a sign of emotional turmoil (usually clearly linked to a significant emotional event in his life). So we look for an address the underlying emotional issues that are going on, which is the key really. So first really look into why your child does this: is he needing more attention? Upset over being left out in a friend group at school? Worn out from not getting enough sleep?

To specifically address the lying, what we most recently tried was starting a "trust board". We started by listing all of the things that we need to trust him for, that maybe when he was younger he needed supervision but now we trust him to do it without us there. He contributed to the list. Our list includes things like washing hands after using the toilet, brushing and flossing teeth, going over to a neighbor's house to play and coming home in time for dinner, bringing candy to school (he was allowed to eat a treat with his lunch IF he eats all the healthy food, too), screen time (watching/playing appropriate things), etc. Make sure that the things he's been lying about are on the list, as well as privileges he has that require trust.

Next, we had him order them from most to least important to him- screen time he put at the top, washing hands at the bottom. This is all on a large white board in our living room. From there, we said something like, "these are all things we trust you with, but lately you've been lying so much we don't know when to believe you and can't trust you. When you break someone's trust, it takes a lot to earn it back, and you never know how long it will take. This will give you a little idea of what that's like. For now, we will supervise reach thing on this board. We will watch to make sure you wash your hands/brush your teeth well, etc. Nothing is being taken away- you still can have screen time, you just need a parent there to supervise while you do; you still can play with friends, it just has to be at our house or arranged with the friend's parent so they know when to send you home. Then, for every time your honest when it's hard to be honest (I hit my brother, forgot my homework at school, etc), you get one point on the board. For each 10 points, you earn back one unsupervised privilege until you earn them all back and show us we can really trust you."

This way, there's a consequence for lying- losing freedoms and some enjoyable things happening less often if we aren't able to supervise- but he can earn back trust in a visible way. Note that being honest doesn't erase consequences- if he forgets his homework at school, he'll get a point for telling us PLUS we'll make him do it on the weekend (which he'd have to do no matter how we find out). That way the negative behaviors won't increase just so he can earn more trust points!

RE: 10yr old and lying ()

Just want to underline what another response was: GET PROFESSIONAL HELP ASAP. Our daughter lied from a young age, had some other issues as well, took her for psych counseling but we were told she would grow out of it. She never did. She still lies, constantly. I've decided to just stop believing the lies, and try to look for the prima facie evidence where possible without making myself crazy. We've gotten her with a great psychiatrist who has found a great anti-depressant for her, which is helping. At least now she can function day to day. And yes, we sent her to a dual diagnosis rehab facility this summer. Waste of time and money IMHO. She's not sober, but her drug use has decreased significantly (I would classify it as recreational now), her social skills and mood have improved, and so have her school grades. Excellent, proactive care is key.