Why do children lie? Believe it or not, lying can be understood as part of a child's development. It represents a child's attempt to alter a situation and/or protect the self; sometimes it is a way to avoid feelings of shame/guilt, to connect with someone else, to feel a sense of pride about something or to feel in control.
Lying has meaning to children. It is important to remember that children do not lie or engage in other behavior considered "bad" just because. This behavior has meaning and understanding the meaning is key to supporting healthy development.
Though lying is part of the developmental process, it should still be addressed. Calmly exploring the lie and trying to understand the purpose it served without being accusatory, as well as following up with logical consequences that promote a sense of conscience, internal well being, and empathy can strengthen a child's emotional, intellectual, and social development.
This post summarizes some points and is based on a recent article on lying for MSN's Mom's Homeroom, written by Fran Stott, Clinical Psychologist, Vice President and Dean of Academic Programs at Erikson Institute. See her article for a more in-depth discussion of the issue. The Truth About Lying