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Dr. Rossi
Dr. Rossi, Licensed Psychotherapist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 4627
Experience:  Certified Hypnotherapist, Parenting Book Author, 13+ years of experience.
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Our 8 year old girl, (father and mother are divorcing) seems

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Our 8 year old girl, (father and mother are divorcing) seems to tell more lies than truth. The lies range from fantasies to things which are very provable that she is not telling the truth about. Her father lies in a similar manner. We have attempted to explain (the boy cries wolf) why lying is bad but she seems to be getting worse about it. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 6 years ago.

Good Afternoon,


When did the behavior start? How does she respond to the consequences when you take the privileges away and is the behavior present at school or only at home?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
It has been going on for some time (a few years), but seems like it is now becoming more often. It is frequently related to trivial matters (came home from school one day and told us she won a game of chess then a few weeks later said she had never won a game of chess at school) but then just as often bigger topics (says she has finished her homework or brushed her teeth but hasn't or put away her laundry but it is shoved under her bed...).

She states that she understands it is important not to lie so that we will trust her (we have had this discussion several times in the last 6 months). Loss of privileges seems to not effect her... For example "go stand in the corner" becomes a time to make up up a song or story in her head.

I am not aware if telling lies happens much a school. Her teachers have never commented that it is a problem. It seems to be mostly if not all, at home.
Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for clarifying.


If the behavior takes place primarily at home it is either opportunistic and/or attention seeking.


A time out may not be something you'd want to use with her (She's older and that works better with toddlers) You would want to consequent her with things she finds important. For instance, if she likes a certain outfit/item, you may confiscate that. You can also deprive her of free play or TV time (anything that she finds pleasurable, you can use to take away) Of course, you may want to let her know how these items are to be earned back. Don't plan a long time frame (try to have her earn them back the same week)


Her lying may also relate to low self esteem (depending on whether or not she makes more stories that show her in favorable light) If that is the case, you can address the self esteem issue. If you believe that she is lying to get away with something (doing homework, chores, etc) then you address that. Behavioral is usually purposeful. Try to find out what purpose it serves to her. Even if it may be silly to an outsider, it always has a purpose for the person doing it.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
She has lost various items toys, tv restrictions and such, which seem to have little effect on this issue. Her stories do often feature her as the "mother" or the "queen"... Are you saying that telling lies may be related to low self esteem? How do we go about determining if that is so and work on it with her?
Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 6 years ago.
Yes, telling lies may be related to self esteem if she is trying to feature herself as a grand person in her stories. Also, the fact that there may be family discord, she may be seeking attention (this can also be her own defense mechanism to avoid what is going on) If her behavior is mostly present at home, if she is the main character of her stories then you may suspect that it is her self esteem issue.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hello Dr Rossi;

More questions from the original response.

You mention that time out is not appropriate for her age - why is that?

The loss of toys and outfits (she has so many) even her favorites, does not seem to make a big impact on her as she just "moves on" to the next one - is this typical?

With regard to loss of free play time - what do you suggest fill in the time? Yesterday her mother had her write 100 times "I will be kind to my sister" and as she did it, it became another game for her. She is very funny in that she will stall (for hours) while doing her homework, rather than get it done and be able to do other more fun things. Obviously she does get attention (negative) while all of this is going on. The making a game out of everything is starting to get very frustrating...

How much "attention" should an 8 year old expect from a parent?

Can you recommend any introductory guides for a soon to be step dad who has never been a parent before?

Thanks for your time,
Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 6 years ago.

Time out for her age range really would not be perceived by her as a consequence (some kids do not mind being removed from the environment and you've mentioned that she sings. Unless a removal from the environment is distressing to her, it is not a consequence.


It is typical to move onto the next item (but that may be a way to manipulate and show indifference so you do not take the stuff) Still confiscate whatever you believe will me missed by her.


Writing sentences over is not really something that shapes behavior. It is more like a punishment. You may instead assign her chores (things to help in the house) or even if you are to bring her to the grocery store with you with a list of things for her to gather into the shopping cart.


She should expect not just attention but positive feedback/compliments by a parent and being entrusted with small tasks around the house. That would be something to help her develop a sense of self sufficiency and belonging in the home.


The book below is not per se for step dads but is very good (you'd be a role model for her and teach her by example)


What All Little Girls Need and Most Women Never Had: A Loving Relationship with Their Father

Joe Cucchiara (Author)

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