To test out a new behavior
Dr. Rouse says one reason children lie is because they’ve discovered this novel idea and are trying it out, just as they do with most kinds of behaviors, to see what happens. “They’ll wonder, what happens if I lie about this situation?” he says. “What will it do for me? What does it get me out of? What does it get me?’”
To enhance self-esteem and gain approval
Children who lack confidence may tell grandiose lies to make themselves seem more impressive, special or talented to inflate their self-esteem and make themselves look good in the eyes of others. Dr. Rouse recalls treating an eighth-grader who was exaggerating wildly about 80 percent of the time: “They were kind of incredible experiences that weren’t within the bounds of plausible at all.” For instance, the boy would say he’d gone to a party and everyone had started to chant for him when he came in the door.