Skip to main content

What to do when your child lies about schoolwork

Many children desire to be honest, yet some slip into a pattern of trying to dodge their schoolwork and covering up about it. After all, who wouldn’t want more playtime?

Nonetheless, schoolwork plays an important role in a student’s learning process. In class, it’s part of the guided practice with the teacher, and when assigned as homework, it allows your child to gain some reinforcement of skills and independent practice. Another important aspect of schoolwork is that it helps your child to build up a work ethic and self-discipline.

However, what do you do when your child or teen lies about schoolwork? Here are a few factors and some tips to think about as you navigate through this important issue.

Why would children lie about schoolwork?

Mother talking with young son in living room
Ground Picture/Shutterstock

According to Matthew Rouse, Ph.D., of the Child Mind Institute, the first step toward resolving this issue is to look at why it’s occurring in the first place. At times, children who experience difficulty with grasping a new concept or skill might make up excuses to get out of doing schoolwork, but there are other factors that might affect your student’s academic performance such as:

  • Lack of motivation (common in some tween or teen phases)
  • Too many social (or electronic) distractions
  • Dislike for a particular class
  • Feeling self-conscious about asking questions

Either way, figuring out the cause behind the behavior helps parents to support their student’s academic success. Usually, the first and best step is to conference with the teacher to share insight into the matter and to work in a partnership to help your child to overcome this obstacle.

What are some other possible causes?

However, if the previously mentioned possibilities don’t apply, you and your child might be dealing with other matters that hinder progress in the classroom such as:

  • The possibility that your child has been bullied at school or online
  • Changes at school such as a staff or administration turnover, since the readjustment period for both students and faculty can strike an emotional nerve
  • Issues related to family where you might need to “check in” with your child to see how he or she is doing if there have been difficulties at home
  • Issues related directly to learning and processing information

When you dig a little deeper to rule out any other possible causes that contribute to the change in academic performance, you will rule out some if not all these causes. Also, depending on your situation, you can look to teachers, school counselors, and even your family doctor for help. Possibly, your child is having trouble hearing or seeing in the classroom, which might warrant a change of seating or an eye exam and glasses. Or you might need to enlist the help of a tutor to help with learning strategies and mastery of the skill that your child is having trouble with at the moment.

How to break the cycle of lying?

Young girl at a desk in a classroom
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If by some chance, you’ve determined that the problem is simply your child’s way of testing boundaries or expressing boredom with schoolwork, then a different course of action becomes necessary. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Recommend to the teacher a change of seating if your child is visiting with classmates instead of focusing on schoolwork
  • Change the study location at home to decrease distractions such as TV, siblings who have no homework, or a game system. For instance, your child can sit at the kitchen table while studying as you’re preparing dinner, which makes monitoring and offering assistance much easier.
  • Institute some age-appropriate consequences for lying such as loss of playtime or playdates, or other privileges.
  • Create a schoolwork log where the teacher initials each assignment after it’s been completed

So when you’re dealing with a lying child, try to remain calm, but at the same time let your child know the very second that you’re aware of the dishonesty. When you consistently ask children to “come clean” with the truth, they soon realize that simply completing the task is a lot easier than trying to come up with a story to get out of doing it. Finally, remember that this phase won’t last forever if handled right away, and your child will learn the value of being trustworthy.

Editors' Recommendations

Leslie Anderson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Leslie Anderson is a freelance writer/writing coach from Roswell, N.M. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and helping students…
These weight loss tips for teenagers really work and are good for their self-esteem
Tips to help teens lose weight and build their confidence while they get fit
Teenage girl jogging

As a parent, you want nothing more than for your children to be happy and healthy. Unfortunately, when your teen isn't feeling their healthiest or they're struggling with their weight, it’s easy for them to think it's their own problem to deal with alone.

If your teen has expressed concern about their weight or that they'd like to get healthier, you can support them by incorporating lifestyle changes as a family. If you're struggling with how to help your teenager lose weight in a supportive and non-judgemental way, here are some weight loss plans for teenagers to help get their energy up and their fitness back on track.

Read more
When should your child learn how to ride a bike?
Find out what age to take off the training wheels
Parents teaching their daughter how to ride a bike with training wheels

Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for most kids. Children usually learn to ride a bike between the ages of 3 and 8. Bike riding is one of the best outdoor activities for kids, and it's something the entire family can do together. Most kids typically learn to ride a bike with training wheels first, while some are just natural and take to two wheels immediately.

Research shows that the best range for kids to learn a new skill is between the ages of 4 and 12. Teaching your child to ride a bike not only gives them a new experience and skill but the earlier your child learns, the longer they reap the physical and mental rewards of bike riding.

Read more
These 4 pre-nap routines will help your child sleep peacefully
Here's some advice to help your baby nap better
Infant boy sleeping on bed

Any parent or caregiver can tell you how important nap time is. Not only does it allow your little one to get the rest they need, but it also helps give everyone a much-needed break. Frankly, getting kids to nap during the infant and toddler years is an important caregiver skill that can help maintain everyone’s sanity. Dealing with toddlers who refuse sleep, can be frustrating for everyone involved.

While it may take a few tries and even more adjustments, once you develop a solid baby nap time routine, your little one will be sleeping like a baby. Keep reading for four great pre-nap routines for every age and stage.

Read more