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How to Tell If Your Child is Lying
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
- 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.
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.