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Dr. Rossi
Dr. Rossi, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4627
Experience:  PsyD, LPC, CHt
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My son is 11 years old, well behaved boy. Suddenly he lied

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Hi, my son is 11 years old, well behaved boy. Suddenly he lied at school yesterday, got a severe warning for that. He was very apologetic and knew how upset I was. Today I got a phone call from school again that he lied on something pretty serious.
The headteacher is very shocked as he has always been amongst the mostly well behaved children.
What shall I do?
He had already been reprimanded for this behavior at school. He also realizes that it was wrong to do so and that you were upset because of it.
At this point, it may be helpful to sit down with him and try to find out what is going on with him. There may be external factors causing this dishonesty such as: peer pressure, conflict w/teachers, fear of being punished at home, etc.
Even if the behavior is undesirable/unhealthy, it still serves some purpose to him. Perhaps you can try to figure out what that is. Is he lying in order to look better to others (if the lie is believed) is he doing it to cover up for someone else, is it for attention, to relieve anxiety, poor problem solving,etc.
When you speak to him, you may point out to him that lying reflects negative on him but in the end, he is in a way cheating himself. You can then explain to him why it is better to address things that may even be problematic or scary rather than pretend that they're not happening or to lie about them.
He could write down what had transpired and then speak to you about it if he's uncomfortable/scared to just talk. He may write down what happened in reality, what he said happened (the lies), why he did that (what motivated him to do it) and what could of been done differently all together. He may have been focused on the immediate "solution" to the problems that caused his dishonesty rather than think about how lying can cause a whole lot of other outcomes.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I spoke to him yesterday and he said he won't do it again, also said will make me proud of him. How do I know to what extent he means what he says? what happens in the long run?

Saying that he won't do it again may not be a promise he can keep in the long run (if the triggers behind the behavior occur again).
In the long run, he may learn that at times a person can get away with lying if not caught.
Hemma, you would want him to be honest not just to make you proud and to avoid punishment, but because it is the right thing to do.
If he has not yet identified what caused this behavior, it would be what you'd speak about with him next. The two of you can speak about the value of honesty and how it builds his character as a developing young man. He may have lied because of self esteem issues as well.
Something else to do would be to find movies on youtube that show what consequences occur when even grown up men are dishonest ex:getting fired from work, loss of respect, break up with family, jail time, etc.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Once I've spoken to him tonight, can I ask you a few more questions?

Dr. Rossi and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


I spoke to my son this evening and he seems really apologetic. Like I mentioned earlier he is well known for his good behaviour at school, do you think the headteacher has been just a little bit unfair towards him regarding his mistake? My husband seems to think so, although I disagree.

How do I make sure that he keeps his word about not lying?

It is possible that the teacher had over reacted (depending on what the mistake had been).
Perhaps his dad can also speak to him man to man. You can continuously remind your son that a when a man keeps his word, it reflects positive on his character. Talk with his dad to determine if he's experiencing real remorse rather than apologizing only to avoid a consequence. Reminding him about the importance of honesty can be an ongoing thing through his life. At this age he knows the difference b/w right and wrong.
His father and you can talk to him about what sort of a punishment would occur in the future if he's dishonest. Involve your son in coming up with an idea of such a consequence for himself should he lie again.