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Liar Liar, Pumpkin Eater

Updated: Jan 28, 2020

If you have ever stood next to me for longer than 2 minutes, you have probably heard a crazy story about my Middle. Our middle child is loud, easily excitable, extremely particular and if every way: Me.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that she can push my buttons better than anyone else on earth. The Middle has always required more of man-on-man defense, while the other two can be contained with zone. A major area of difficulty is her non-stop telling of untruths. I know lying can be a common characteristic for young children, but her lies seemed to be beyond the realm of normal childhood. As she turned 4, I decided it was time to consult her pediatrician. I planned on explaining the situation, but as we entered the examine room, I soon realized I wouldn't have to. The Middle was showing off her "skills" for the doctor. It went something like this:


Dr: How are you feeling?

Middle: Good... but I did break my collar bone falling off my bunk bed.

Dr: Ohh really? (looking up at me)

Me: No. We don't have bunk beds.

Middle: Not at your house... I have bunk beds at my real mom's house.

Dr: *silently staring*

Me: *shakes my head*

Middle: what? I DO! My grandma sleeps on the bottom bunk.

Me: ...So I have some questions about what to do about lying?


The pediatrician recommended some reading material about children telling untruths and what could be the reason behind it. Apparently children lie for a number of reasons, such as:

1. To avoid getting in trouble

This is what we normally think of as the motive for lying. If a child is avoiding consequences, a child could have a fear of disappointing others or if they will no longer be loved. Assuring a child that actions don't change the way you feel about them, can help a child feel safe enough to be honest.

2. To avoid the reality of a bad situation

Some lies are to avoid the truth of a bad situation. Some children create a fantasy world to avoid the harsh reality that surrounds them. If you suspect this is the case, please consult someone such as your physician or a counselor.

3. To protect the feelings of others

These lies are usually learned from adults. Children are taught not to hurt people's feelings, so a little white lie is used to avoid the truth. Explain to your child that home is your safe place and being considerate is not the same as avoiding honesty if you don't like something. Model this behavior. Show your children how you can be gentle and considerate but still speaking your truth.

4. To seem more interesting

This is most likely the root of my Middle's untruths. Her lies are normally about family members that don't exist or talents she claims to have.

After considering all of these are possibilities, I decided that she just has an extremely active imagination. She is aware of the difference between the truth and a lie. She knows the difference between right and wrong. So I have embraced her strange way of playing pretend every second of the day.

Now that I'm mostly sure she isn't pathological and isn't hiding from trauma that I'm unaware of, I know that it's free game to laugh about the crazy adventures she takes us on everyday.

Normal occurrences in my life:

  • Middle walks up to me shortly before bedtime and asks me if I can text her mom to see if she can stay a little longer.

  • Tells me that I packed peanuts (which she is allergic to) in her lunch that day but she ate them and she's fine

  • Middle points to a random house as we drive and tells me that's where her grandma lives

  • Countless broken bones

  • She decides she is fluent in Polish and avoids English all day

  • Middle drew her "older sister, Kate" on her family portrait during the first week of Kindergarten

We have decided to embrace the oddity and laugh along with her, rather than ignore it. To be fair, her stories are quite elaborate and fun. But slightly strange when I'm meeting new people or explaining things to her teacher. We have decided this is just a part of who she is. And I can't deny that she got most of her personality from me; I'm probably to blame for this one too.


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