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How to Tell If Your Child is Lying

Updated on April 28, 2012
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Kids Lie

It is a fact. Children do lie. They lie to escape punishment, to avoid chores, to look better, to gain extra attention, and sometimes just to push boundaries. In most cases, a parent can spot a lie from their own child, but kids can be sneaky.

My preteen daughter is incapable of successfully telling a lie. She gives herself away every time with a smirk. My younger son, is a different story. He will argue his bold-face lie so well and for so long, that I end up wondering if he really does speak the truth. If you are not sure whether or not you are looking at a lie from your child, consider the following telltale signs of lying.

Signs That a Chid May Be Lying

  • poor eye contact
  • fidgeting
  • scratches head, ear or nose
  • odd blinking of eyes
  • biting of lip
  • change in tone of voice
  • excessive talking
  • fearful or guilty facial expression
  • smirks or laughs
  • pauses or hesitates
  • inconsistent story
  • becomes angry, agitated

Listen to Your Child

If you suspect a lie, pay attention to the sound of your child's voice. Is it very quiet or high-pitched? Is he speaking too fast or slow? Is she talking excessively, providing extraneous information? Is there any hesitation or stalling? Sometimes a child will pause to get the lie together in his mind. He may even repeat your question like, "Um, who broke the lamp? Is that what you said? What lamp are you talking about?"

Some children will take on the lie with anger and indignation. "No, of course I didn't do that! Why would you even think that? Why doesn't anyone ever believe me? I'm out of here!" If the drama seems over the top, your child may be lying. Others will tell some of the story, but then go blank on the details and may even say "I don't know" about the missing content. If the story just does not add up, your child might be caught in a lie.

Take a moment to listen to the story. Have the child repeat parts of the story and see if there are any inconsistencies. It may be that you need to question another person to compare the facts. For example, if your teenager says she was watching a movie at a girlfriend's house and you suspect a lie, you can ask the other parent for verification and see if the story holds water.

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Look at Your Child's Body Language

If you suspect your child is lying, pay attention to facial expressions. Is he looking you in the eye or down at the floor? Is she biting her lip or the inside of her cheek? Is he blinking his eyes very fast or not blinking at all? For the young child, especially, does she look guilty or fearful?

What is your child doing as he speaks? Take notice if she is fidgeting or wringing her hands. He may hold his hands behind his back or sit on them if he is seated. A younger child may even move around some to keep out of the spotlight. Is your child scratching his head, ear or nose as he speaks? These can be signs of lying as well.

What to Do If Your Child Lies

If you do determine that your child is lying, try not to overreact. This is especially important if the child finds the courage to admit his lie or apologize. Yelling at him will reduce chances of him coming forward with the truth in the future. Being truthful is a lesson you must teach your child, and it must be modeled as well. If your child seems to have a problem with excessive lying, you should discuss the matter with your child's doctor.

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    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hehee, I absolutely love this Video! You're right on with the reenactments... heheheh, those responses are quite familiar to me. I've seen them many times before and played them out myself more than I would like to admit ;)

      Also, great tip about watching hands. My hands are definitely one of my big weak points, plus I blink a lot when I lie. It was the blinking that my mom knew to look for- worked for her like a charm!

    • momster profile image

      momster 5 years ago

      Great Hub with this video. Voted up and shared.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thank you, Simone and momster! This was my first experience with the Hub Video. I had to give credit to my 11 year old for putting the video together with the special effects. Old mom is still learning the technology!

    • Brittany Daniel profile image

      Brittany Daniel 5 years ago from Cary, NC

      This is great. I just feel so uneasy when I feel like a lie is being told. I worry that if I punish her for lying when she was actually telling the truth that she won't trust me anymore. There's the added complication that I'm her stepmom (fulltime), and building trust is precarious.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Brittany, you bring up a good point about trust. I have found that if it is really a lie, the truth is bound to come out at some point. That goes for children and adults! Good luck with your relationship - I am sure you are doing a great job!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Awesome! I love the video and the dramatization. This is helpful to me as a teacher, too, because, as we know, kids will be kids and sometimes you have to fish a story out of them to find out who did what to whom. Hehe. Nice layout and great info, too.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Great video on this topic. As a parent, you learn to know the tell-tale signals of a lie. However, some children are pretty good at it; so your idea of asking questions in different ways really helps. Enjoyed the hub and learned some really important facts.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, cclitgirl and teaches12345! Making the video was fun. Yes, those signs should definitely help teachers too when you have the blame game at school on the playground! Some kids can be convincing, and I am even remembering a whopper I told my parents many years ago! (didn't get caught, either)

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