Ask An Expert / Behavior Problems

When should you get help for a child who’s a habitual liar?

Dr. Koplewicz answers a reader question

Harold S. Koplewicz, MD
Harold S. Koplewicz, MD

President; Medical Director

Child Mind Institute

When should you get help for a child who's a habitual liar?

Children lie for many reasons. Sometimes they do it to avoid consequences. Sometimes they do it when feeling inadequate, insecure, or anxious. Sometimes they are simply copying a peer’s or an adult’s bad behavior. Lying, however, is a symptom, not a diagnosis. If a child is habitually lying and then experiencing distress or dysfunction, it is time to seek professional help and a psychiatric evaluation.