Sometimes children lie about their work because they don't know how to do it.

How to Punish a Child Who Has Lied About School Work

by Amy Morin

It's not uncommon for a child to say he doesn't have any homework when he really has two math assignments due tomorrow. When a child lies about his school work it's usually a poor attempt at problem-solving. Although lying may work in the short-term by getting him out of having to do it today, it will likely backfire in the long-term. If you catch your child in a lie about his school work, take action to discourage him from lying in the future.

Talk to Your Child About Lying

Ask your child what his reasons for lying are. Avoid asking, "Why did you lie?" Instead, ask, "What made you think lying was a good idea?" Asking in a less confrontational manner may help a child come clean about feeling overwhelmed or not knowing how to do his work.

Discuss the importance of honesty. Talk to your child about why it is important to tell the truth about his work.

Review the potential natural consequences of lying with your child. Explain that lying may cause others not to believe him, even when he is telling the truth.

Prevent Lying in the Future

Give your child a punishment for lying. Take away a privilege, such as video games or cellphone time. Take it away long enough that your child won't be tempted to lie again, recommends James Lehman on the Empowering Parents website. Warn your child that if you catch him lying again, the punishment will be more severe.

Develop a plan with your child's teacher to help you stay informed about your child's schoolwork. Sample plans may include the teacher sending home a weekly progress report or sending you an email notification if your child falls behind on his assignments.

Work together with your child to identify strategies to prevent him from feeling like he needs to lie about his school work. For example, if he reports that the work is really difficult, identify ways for him to get help.


  • If your child has ongoing academic problems, he may benefit from an evaluation to rule out learning disabilities.
  • Be a good role model. Practice telling the truth, even when it is difficult to do so.


  • Avoid labeling your child as a liar. Instead, discuss how behavior, such as lying, leads to more problems.

About the Author

Amy Morin has been writing about parenting, relationships, health and lifestyle issues since 2009. Her work appears in many print and online publications, including and Global Post. Morin works as a clinical therapist and a college psychology instructor. Morin received her Master of Social Work from the University of New England.

Photo Credits

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