How To Tell If Our Kids Are Lying

When our children lie to us, we can feel hurt, shocked, and confused; especially if it’s the first time they have told a fib, and it seemed so effortless.

When young kids begin to experiment with lying, they may be simply testing their boundaries and seeing what they can get away with. As our kids get older, their lies can become more in-depth and structured making them more deceitful. So, how can we tell if our kids are lying?

When we lie we give away telltale signs that show we are not being truthful. It is our body's way of emphasising what we are saying in order to distract from our dishonesty. The more we lie, the better we are at practising hiding these small giveaway signs. Young children are unaware of these traits, to begin with, so it is easier to tell if they are lying.

Teenagers on the other hand have more awareness of how their bodies may be giving them away, and so become better at lying. But they may still reveal signs of being deceitful. How we communicate is a very physical thing as we maintain eye contact, remain in close physical space, and open our bodies up. When we lie, we very much do the opposite.

How They Speak

When lying, our speech may become distorted from how we ordinarily speak. We may fall over our words, stutter, or talk faster than usual. If the way we speak is not normal it can highlight dishonesty.

For instance, if we talk louder or quicker when telling a lie, it is almost as though we are trying to speak with authority to avoid holes being picked in our story. Stuttering can be put down to nervousness or being self-conscious but can also hint at lying. A higher-pitched voice can also show dishonesty as the liar feels uncomfortable with the deceit or perhaps getting caught!

Body Language

Our bodies are wonderful at giving us up when we are agitated, frustrated, uncomfortable, or trying to hide something. Avoiding eye contact and erratic eye movement is a great way of knowing if someone is lying. By averting our eyes, looking sideways, we are avoiding the possibility of giving ourselves up as liars. In the same way, when we fold our arms across our chest, turn our bodies sideways, or back away from the person we are lying to, we are protecting ourselves from being uncovered and create physical barriers to emotionally distance ourselves.

All of these traits are not fool-proof methods to uncover a liar but can highlight inhibition or insecurity. Be aware that it may mean a child needs reassurance, support, or guidance with an issue.  

Geraldine Walsh

Mum of two Geraldine Walsh happily works from home as a freelance writer chatting about parenting, wellness and mental health.

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