Sneaky and lying children can be infuriating.  It can cause you to lose your cool, make you question your parenting entirely.  The sad fact about it is sneakiness and lying is normal for children.  They aren’t doing it to be mean or vindictive.  Sometimes kids don’t even realize how painful and hurtful lying and sneaking can even be.  


Why is my kid so sneaky?

There are few reasons why our children decide to try to be sneaky. 

Children can be sneaky because they are wanting something that is forbidden or missing that they want or need.  The thought of not having whatever it is could lead them to snatching some cookies from the pantry before dinner.  Or sneaking their phone into the bedroom at night in case a friend texts them back.  They think that being without will be worse than getting caught sneaking. 

Another reason a child may be sneaky is they are trying to test the boundaries and stretch their independence.  This could look like them not coming home before curfew but a few minutes after. 

Not being taught integrity could also be a cause.  Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking. 

Another reason is children are not good at problem solving.  They may lie because they don’t want to be given a consequence for something they haven’t done, and the only option they think is left is lying. 

Parents may push their children into lying if there are unreasonable expectations.  These unreasonable expectations if not met could lead to consequences, the only way to avoid those consequences may be to lie in the child’s mind. 

Taking a back seat on parenting and not checking up on our children can also cause them to be sneaky.  If they don’t think you will come check on them, they know they have freedom to try to get away with whatever they want. 

Last of all as parents we have to practice what we preach.  Don’t tell little white lies, a lie is a lie no matter how big.  If your child sees you getting away with lies, they will think the same thing can happen with them. 


How do you deal with a sneaky child?

Keep your own emotions in check. 

If you catch your child sneaking or lying the first thing to do is to not take it personally.  Children’s brains are immature, they don’t know how hurtful lying and sneaking can be.  Don’t take it personal.  Step back and evaluate the action they did.   When you are calm and emotions are reigned in, talk with your child about the action. 

Teach the family rules. 

When caught telling lies.  Explain to them why lying doesn’t follow your family’s rule of not telling lies.  Kids usually know lying is bad.  Rarely is their lying at this age a need for concern on their moral well being.  Lying is used sometimes as a defense of getting out of a consequence when your child sees there is no way but punishment.  

Be vigilant.

If you see your child is doing something suspicious or sneaky, call them out on it right away.  This lets them know you are watching them.  It also gives them a chance to right their behavior before it crosses a line. 

Teach problem solving.

When you know your child has done something dishonest, prompt them into a problem solving conversation.  Instead of pointing blame and calling them out on something you suspect they did, walk them through steps that help them have the opportunity to come clean.  This could be something like you notice some money has gone missing from your wallet.  Your child and you were the only ones home at the time the money went missing.  Instead of marching up to your child and yelling at them to give the money back, go ask them for help if you have had some money go missing can they help you track it down.  This allows them time to think through the situation they have gotten into.  If they don’t come clean in time you can ask them directly if they took the money.  

Be  consistent in rules and consequences.

Make sure your child understands the rules of your household.  Let them know that lying is not tolerated.  Make sure you model this behavior yourself.  Keep your word to them so they know it is what you expect from them.  When they sneak around the rule or lie, be extremely consistent with consequences.  If you state that a consequence will happen if you catch them again, make sure you hold to that consequence.  

Praise and reward good behavior.

Praise honest behavior always.  Reward good behavior if you think necessary. 

Continuous communication.

Have conversations with your child about trust and how important trust is.  Also talk to them about the rules you have in place that are causing them to want to sneak or lie.  Maybe there is one or two you could compromise on, so that the sneaking and lying can stop.  Consistency, calm, and communication are all important when trying to handle a sneaky child.  



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