The Truth About Lying

Part one of a series on understanding why kids don't always tell the truth


Published:

Photo courtesy of Fabrik Bilder/Shutterstock.com

This is part one of a two-part series on understanding why children (and adults) lie, and how to determine if your child is lying habitually as part of a developing personality disorder. Part two focuses on when habitual lying may indicate a personality disorder.

 

Lying is an innate talent. It is a developmental milestone, the sign of a maturing intellect, and a natural means of self-protection. People lie all the time: Sometimes to cover a crime (even if it’s just drinking your husband’s coffee), sometimes to feel better (about your weight or age) and sometimes to make someone else feel better (telling your aunt her pot roast is delicious). 

As a parent, how do you ensure your child does not misuse this very human “skill”? How do you help your child understand the difference between lies that might be considered socially appropriate, and lies that definitely are not? And if these lies are not “acceptable,” what help can you provide your child? 

 

The Psychology of Lying

“Lying is an example of conflict resolution at a high level,” says Henry Yin, a research neuroscientist for the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences at Duke University. “First you have to know the truth. Then you have to understand the alternatives. Then you have to make a choice and take action.” 

Yin is interested in the mechanisms of the brain’s underlying behavior, and is making breakthroughs in his lab using neurotechnology to map neurons associated with simple behaviors in rodents. He says that in psychology, purpose and intention are the most important concepts. “Unless we trust that someone is telling us the truth, then behavior is highly ambiguous,” Yin says. “The question is, how to get beyond ambiguity?” 

Lying is related to what you actually want, Yin says. This can be hard to read sometimes, especially in young children, who are not expert communicators; and in teens, who are just figuring out who they are and what they want. 

So, Yin says, in order to study lying, you have to take advantage of the fact that when you lie, there is always a conflict in the brain. Telling the truth is natural, he says.

“When I ask you how much money you make, the truth pops up in your head along with a distinct set of neurological signals,” he says. “However, you might feel like you have to lie to impress me, and you might activate a second representation in your brain. In order to be a good liar, you have to resolve these conflicting images and suppress the truth.” 

It is a skill like any other, he says, and the more you practice the better you will be. 

Professor Yin is most excited about his success in identifying brain cells associated with a specific rodent behavior — making a left turn, for example. So far, his research has been limited to physical action, but he believes he’ll find neurological connections for cognitive behavior as well. And then? Well, it’s only a matter of time before Yin will be able to pop an electrode on your child’s temple and tell you if she’s telling the truth. 

 

The Social Rules of Lying

Janet Schwartz, an experimental psychologist at the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University, describes lying as an “important ability” with certain benefits. 

“You can use lying to motivate yourself on a tough morning, like telling yourself you look great when you know you’ve looked better,” she says. “You can use it to smooth out social situations, like breaking a dinner date by claiming a headache when really something better has come up. It allows you to get what you want without hurting feelings.” 

Lying is entrenched in our society. It is not a question of “whether” but of “how much” to lie. “Research shows that there are not just a few people who lie a lot,” Schwartz says. “The key is that everybody lies, but typically only a little bit.” 

She cites a study in which subjects were given a math test of 10 very simple problems, but not given enough time to finish them. At the end, they were told to write down the number of problems they got right, and that for every correct answer they would receive a dollar. Since study administrators supposedly did not look at the papers and shredded them after the test, the subjects had the opportunity to secretly lie about the number of problems they got right and get more money. 

“Almost everyone cheated,” Schwartz says. “Only a few claimed to get all 10 correct, but most people bumped up their scores by two. Just enough so that they got the benefits of lying without feeling bad about themselves.” 

Outside of psychological studies, Schwartz notes that the prevalence of fake news or politicians caught lying is nothing new. 

“With today’s technology, it is just harder to hide,” she says. Conversely, technology may also make lying easier — especially for teens since they communicate so much through their phones. Schwartz notes that it is certainly easier to shoot off a quick lie in a text than it is to formulate a lie while staring at someone fac to face. 

 

Children and Lying: When and Why They Do It

It’s one thing to become jaded to prevaricating politicians in Washington D.C., but quite another to face down your guilty 4-year-old. If lying is perfectly natural and everybody does it, how do we convince our children to tell the truth? The key is to be ready, as the best time to deal with lying is the first time it happens. 

“It’s great if you can catch them in the first moments and help them recognize the dangers of lying early,” Schwartz says. 

A precocious child might start telling lies as young as age 2, says Kristen Wynns, a Cary psychologist specializing in children and families. She says it’s just as common to start lying at age 3 or 4, and that while lying is a sign of developing cognitive flexibility, early lying is not necessarily a sign of greater intellectual ability. 

“It’s the moment they start to realize that parents can’t read their minds,” Wynns says. “It becomes an experiment: If I say this, what is going to happen?” 

At this age, Wynns says, behavior is shaped by reward and punishment. The main motivation for lying is to get an extra reward, to get out of trouble or to get attention. “I hear a lot of parents who say their child is ‘manipulative’ and will do anything to get what they want,” Wynns says. “Kids at this age are simply outcome-driven.” 

These kids may understand the practical consequences of their lies, and they will remember if they come away with an extra cookie or a timeout, but, says Nadia Charguia, a psychiatrist at UNC School of Medicine, they won’t philosophically understand the difference between right and wrong until age 7 or 8 at the earliest — sometimes not until age 9 or 10. 

As kids move through elementary to middle school, parents sometimes see an increase in lying, Wynns says. “There’s just a lot more going on academically and socially, from turning in homework, to following rules — not only in the classroom but in their social lives, and online as well.” 

Motivation for lying may also shift as kids get older. In addition to looking for a certain outcome, such as avoiding punishment, they might experience a dopamine surge at successfully duping an authority figure. “This may start to happen with teens, or even in the tween years,” Charguia says. “They start to feel good about exercising power.” 

 

Strategies for Dealing With Lies 

The simplest method for instilling truth-telling habits in your child is to set a good example. “It’s hard to teach children not to lie if you lie a lot,” Wynns says. 

What if your child catches you in a lie? If it is a white lie, then it is an excellent opportunity to teach your child how you feel about socially acceptable, “kind” lies. If you decide to discuss white lies, Wynns suggests emphasizing that white lies are only used for the sake of politeness in order to spare someone else’s feelings. She warns that “it can be a real challenge” to make this distinction while you’re trying to instill a moral compass in a child at the same time. 

If your child catches you in a real lie, let it be a conversation-starter. Take full responsibility for the lie and show your child that you are trying to mitigate any damage caused by it. 

Just as Yin emphasizes the centrality of motivation to the study of psychology, Wynns suggests parents figure out the motive behind their child’s lie. 

“There are some basic reasons kids lie, and correspondingly different ways to address the behavior,” she says. This is called a behavioral approach, in which parents look at the function of their child’s behavior and, once they determine the function, focus on an appropriate intervention. 

“If the child is just seeking attention, then you should ignore it or redirect the child. Help them find ways of getting attention in a pro-social way,” Wynns says. “If they are lying to get out of trouble, help them develop skills to deal with their own misbehavior. They need to know how to take responsibility for their mistakes. Finally, talk about the consequences of lying and the impact it has on relationships.”

When a child lies to hide misbehavior, Wynns recommends treating it as a separate issue with its own additional consequence. For example, if a child lies about hitting her brother, punish her once for hitting and once for lying. On the other hand, if the child is forthcoming with the truth of her misdeed, you might consider making the punishment less severe. 

While Charguia also emphasizes the importance of discovering a child’s motive for lying, she takes a slightly different approach. 

“I like to focus on positive parenting,” she says. Rather than concentrate on punishing an action, Charguia suggests rewarding positive behavior and creating an open atmosphere for identifying feelings and talking through situations to identify motivation. “There is usually a reason your child has acted,” she says. “Different lies have different meaning and consequences, so you don’t want to generalize.” 

Charguia says it’s important for parents to take a step back before reacting to a child’s lie. 

“Don’t let yourself get upset. If you shout, “Never lie to Mommy!” then you will just trigger avoidance.” 

If you do get upset, she suggests that you look carefully at your emotional response. “Ask yourself why you’re so upset. Often, parents interpret a child’s lying as proof of their own inadequacy as a parent. They feel shame, maybe for choices they’ve made, like working full-time or permitting a lot of screen time. Instead, maybe the child was just hungry. Figure out what they are trying to get with this behavior or action. Consider what needs are not being met.” 

Otherwise, she says, parents often fall into a pattern of punishing for each individual lie and never addressing the underlying problem. 

With teens, safety may be a primary concern. Again, it is vital to be open to conversation. Make it clear to your teen that safety is your top priority, and that there are times where you want her to be able to tell the truth without worrying about getting punished for her behavior. 

“When I was a teen, it was always very clear that if I was in trouble I could call and my parents would come and pick me up and take me home, and there would be no consequences,” Schwartz says. 

Often, if you bring up lying with teens, they will ask: “Don’t you trust me?” “It’s a delicate balance, but it has nothing to do with trust,” Charguia says. “You can trust your child and still have concerns about their well-being. Make it a positive rather than a negative. Shift the weight of your message. Elicit conversation and understanding.” 

Another example of putting safety ahead of lying is when you suspect a teen might be hurting himself and lying to cover it up. “What do you care about the lie in this case?” Charguia says. “You care about the safety of the child. Let the child know that you’re available, that you’ll listen without accusing. Hopefully, this will lead to an ability to share.” 

 

When to Seek Professional Help

While lying is very common among children and teens, you might want to seek professional help if your child suddenly starts lying more frequently, or if her lies cause distress amongst her friends — in the classroom at school, or within the family. “Once you’ve tried to address the problem at home and you feel you’re not getting anywhere, then get outside help,” Wynns says. A therapist will work with the child alone and will also help parents develop a strategy for dealing with the behavior at home. 

Charguia notes that a red flag should pop up if you notice your child struggling with distinguishing lies from reality (though no need to worry about a young child with a healthy imagination), or if a child’s lying opens himself or herself up to other problems like anxiety and depression. 

“Certainly, if they seem cloudy on what constitutes the truth, you should seek help,” she says. 

Charguia points out that pathological lying is “definitely a separate issue” from the typical lying children do. 

“Compulsive or habitual lying is when a child lies all the time and the lies are very extreme,” she explains, noting that extreme lying can be symptomatic of a more serious personality disorder. “Lying is a defense mechanism,” she says. “If a child doesn’t have the defenses to cope with a situation, their defenses run higher and you may see an increase in lying.” 

She adds that pathological lying is not considered a unique disorder, but has been associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and other disorders characterized by a lack of empathy and a disregard for other people’s feelings. 

The significance of disregarding other people’s feelings is key as you figure out how to parent around the issue of lying, Schwartz says. 

“You have to set up your own rules for what is okay, and then you have to help your child navigate the social world in a way that helps them and doesn’t hurt other people,” she says. 

In part two of this series, which will appear in our June issue, we’ll delve deeper into pathological lying and explore how it may be connected to a developing personality disorder in children and teens, and what parents should do if it is. Read part two.

 

Caitlin Wheeler is a Parenting Media Association award-winning freelance writer who lives in Durham.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Spring Consignment Sales Across the Triangle: 2020

Options in Wake County and Orange County

Jan. 27-30: Pullen Park History Tour, Muddy Boots, Fitness Lifehacks and Craft Corner

Jan. 27-30: Pullen Park History Tour, Muddy Boots, Fitness Lifehacks and Craft Corner

Weekend Family Fun Across the Triangle

Jan. 24-26: Stargazing Series, Tricky Tracks, Astronomy Days and Science of the Season
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

January 2020

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in July! This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds at...

Cost: 0 – $10

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Whether you want to learn how to run, train for a race, run farther, run faster, simply run for fun, we have options for you! Meet new running buddies as you improve your health and fitness. Routes...

Cost: 78

Where:
CM Herndon Park
511 Scott King Rd
Durham, NC  27713
View map »


Sponsor: FIT4MOM West Raleigh Durham
Contact Name: Jenine N Pearson
Website »

More information

Join the Museum and the Raleigh Astronomy Club to help you see the big picture — of the Universe! From comet crafts to solar observing, lectures to rocket launches, space enthusiasts of all ages...

Cost: Free

Where:
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in February!   This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Website »

More information

Just in time to keep up with those home improvement resolutions for 2020, the Downtown Raleigh Home Show returns to downtown’s Raleigh Convention Center January 24-26, 2020  with a jam-packed...

Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and free for children under 12. Advance $9 tickets

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Marketplace Events
Telephone: 904-608-3823
Contact Name: Liz Morgan

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

A Durham Central Park Food Truck Rodeo is an all-ages Sunday afternoon gathering of dozens of the Triangle’s most popular food trucks, five times each year. The event is free to attend. You...

Where:
Durham Central Park
, NC


Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Join us every Sunday for our ONE HOUR Worship 1215 pm service.  We begin at 1215 and end at 115 PM.  We hope to see you here!

Cost: 0

Where:
Baptist Grove Church
7109 Leesville Road
Raleigh, NC  27613
View map »


Telephone: 919-787-4528
Website »

More information

Cost: 0

Where:
Baptist Grove Church
7109 Leesville Road
Raleigh, NC  27613
View map »


Telephone: 919-787-4528
Website »

More information

Join us for the 2020 Winter Open House at The Franciscan School! The open house is a great way for prospective families to learn more about the excellent catholic education that has been...

Cost: free

Where:
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
11401 Leesville Road
Raleigh, NC  27613
View map »


Sponsor: St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
Telephone: 919-847-8205
Contact Name: The Franciscan School
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Deer are a common sight in the park and perhaps in your own backyard. You’ll get to see a fawn mount and deer skull up close, learn some interesting facts about these beautiful animals and make...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Triangle Restaurant Week (January 20-26, 2020) is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants....

Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Participating Restaurants
, NC


Sponsor: Triangle Blvd
Telephone: 919-673-5784
Website »

More information

David Burney, lead singer for the acclaimed Johnny Cash tribute band Johnny Folsom 4, brings his one-man show to The ArtsCenter for three shows, January 24-26, 2020.  In “Hello, I’m...

Cost: $15 to $20

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
300-G East Main Street.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Breastfeeding mothers and their babies are invited to drop-in and connect with our lactation consultant and other breastfeeding mothers.  During this time our lactation consultant is available to...

Cost: 0

Where:
Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center
207 Old Lexington Road
Thomasville, NC  27360
View map »


Sponsor: Novant Health
Telephone: 336-474-3253
Contact Name: Lisa Miller, BS, IBCLC
Website »

More information

Join in this sensory-rich, caring, gentle environment for your little one! Introduce music, objects, new sounds, and movement. Strengthen muscles, bond and teach relaxation skills, and more! Free...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-902-5432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Get a closer look at the birds of prey that call Crowder County Park home! Learn all about their adaptations through hands-on discovery centers. Then warm up and practice your communication skills...

Cost: FREE. Registration required for everyone; children must have adult accompaniment

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

What is our national bird? How many different hawks are there, and who goes whoooo in the night? Discover fun facts about these feathered hunters of the sky. Read a story, discover what makes a...

Cost: FREE. Registration required for everyone; children must have adult accompaniment

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Spanish Alive is providing Family Spanish classes starting in January! Join us to learn Spanish as an entire family in an immersive, fun environment. Our teachers are trained Spanish educators and...

Cost: $75-$216

Where:
Spanish Alive
156 E. Chatham St
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Short class advertising for local class   I am a mom and retired CPA who is passionate about teaching teens about the high cost of their choices. I teach a fun, interactive "Game of Life meets...

Cost: $225

Where:
Hope Community Church- Apex
2080 E Williams Street
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
Website »

More information

I am a mom and retired CPA who is passionate about teaching teens about the high cost of their choices. I teach a fun, interactive "Game of Life meets Dave Ramsey" class that has teens experience...

Cost: $225

Where:
Hope Community Church- Apex
2080 E Williams Street
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
Website »

More information

Short class advertising for local class   I am a mom and retired CPA who is passionate about teaching teens about the high cost of their choices. I teach a fun, interactive "Game of Life meets...

Cost: $225

Where:
Hope Community Church- Apex
2080 E Williams Street
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
Website »

More information

Azevedo Family Psychology and Kym Azevedo will host an Art for Life group each Thursday from 5:30-6:30PM beginning January 16 and running through March 26. This group is completely free, kid...

Cost: FREE

Where:
1903 N. Harrison Ave
Suite 201
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Sponsor: Azevedo Family Psychology
Telephone: 919-624-9568
Contact Name: Kym Azevedo
Website »

More information

Explore astronomy, biology, architectural and engineering principles, technology and so much more through our hands-on, play-based activities. Spend an evening with your preschooler, experiencing...

Cost: free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Rapahel Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Katie Mistele
Website »

More information

The goal of the How To Talk So Kids Will Listen Group workshop is to help you communicate more effectively with children.   In each session of the workshop you'll be introduced to an...

Cost: $12.95 materials fee

Where:
Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm
3100 Damascus Church Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Sponsor: Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm
Telephone: 919-260-6859
Contact Name: Shelley Welch
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Join us for Family Trivia Night!  Test your knowledge of pop culture, books, music and more. Pizza and drinks provided.  Call or stop by to register: 919-245-2532. Best for kids ages 8 and up...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Art Walk featuring local galleries and artist studios in historic downtown Hillsborough on the Last Friday of every month (no Art Walk in December).

Cost: FREE

Where:
Downtown Hillsborough (multiple locations)
102 N. Churton St.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Hillsborough Arts Council
Telephone: 919-643-2500
Contact Name: Torey Mishoe
Website »

More information

Kids! Are you sick of the Winter? Enjoy a Summer's night at Peach Road Center. Enjoy a Summer-like evening with us. Get into the luau spirit and play summer games!  

Cost: Free

Where:
Peach Road Community Center
911 Ileagnes Rd
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: City or Raleigh Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-807-8545
Contact Name: Christy Famolare

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Join our bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats.​ No preregistration required. Meet...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

How did people predict the weather before The Weather Channel, and can animals really help? Come to the Finley Center to put our colonial weather proverbs to the test and make a pop-up woodchuck...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Join us to meet the educators, see the farm and learn more about our Preschool for 3-5 year olds and Camps for 4-10 year olds. We'll have a campfire for some warmth but please come dressed for the...

Cost: 0

Where:
Longleaf Forest School
4826 Mt. Moriah Road
Durhan, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Longleaf Forest School
Contact Name: Tara Lawson
Website »

More information

Chinese New Year Festival, also Lunar New Year Festival. Largest public event in the Triangle. MAIN STAGE has vocal and orchestral music, folk dance, Lion and Dragon dances, martial arts, and comic...

Cost: $10 entry at door, military and senior discounts, kids<6 free

Where:
Dorton Arena, NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Enter Gate 1,2,4,5,11
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: NC Triangle Area Chinese American Society
Contact Name: Michael, Shin
Website »

More information

Chinese New Year Festival or Lunar New Year Festival, largest public event in the Triangle. MAIN STAGE with musical and dance performances, Lion Dance Dragon Dance, martial arts, comic skits emceed...

Cost: $10 entry at door, military and senior discounts, kids<6 free

Where:
Dorton Arena, NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Enter Gate 1,2,4,5,11
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: NC Triangle Area Chinese American Society
Contact Name: Michael, Shin
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Spanish Alive is providing Family Spanish classes starting in January! Join us to learn Spanish as an entire family in an immersive, fun environment. Our teachers are trained Spanish educators and...

Cost: $75-$216

Where:
Spanish Alive
156 E. Chatham St
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Did you know that Disney, Netflix, Google and NASA, just to name a few, are all using Python? Python can be used for creating web applications, automation, programming robots and artificial...

Cost: Free: registration required

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

FEB. 1, 2020 | 1 – 4 P.M. | BLUE JAY POINT COUNTY PARK Spend a winter afternoon getting to know Blue Jay Point County Park at our Winter Open House. Whether you’re a regular visitor or have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Come on out to support the NC State Gymnastics team as they take on North Carolina in a RED out on February 1st! The first 300 fans in attendance will receive an exclusive red NC State Gymnastics...

Cost: $3-$7

Where:
Reynolds Collisuem
2411 Dunn Ave.
Raleigh , NC  27607
View map »

More information

Come on out to support the NC State Gymnastics team as they take on North Carolina in a RED out on February 1st! The first 300 fans in attendance will receive an exclusive red NC State Gymnastics...

Cost: $3-$7

Where:
Reynolds Collisuem
2411 Dunn Ave.
Raleigh , NC  27607
View map »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Newsletter Sign-Up

Stay connected to what's going on for families in the Triangle by signing up for our FREE e-newsletters!

Subscribe

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.