How to Spot Compulsive Lying in Children

Here are some ways on how to spot compulsive lying in your children.

Everyone knows how children tend to try to fabricate the truth in order to get out of possible punishments or to avoid conflict among their group of friends, and this tendency to lie is more often than not a result of poor education. Usually, the more strict the parental figures tend to be, the better their child(ren) tend to become when it comes to lying, sneaking around or hiding things in an attempt to preserve some sense of control over their own free time or belongings and circle of friends. As such, a child might become very skilled when it comes to lying when the circumstances call for it.

But what does it mean when the child lies without having a reason behind it? Fabricating the truth when there is no personal gain involved, like avoiding punishment or earning praise or impressing someone else may be signs of what is known as compulsive lying.

The difference between regular lying and compulsive lying is explained as it follows: “Lying means both purposely and deliberately putting forth information that is either completely false or altered in a way that benefits the speaker. Ordinary lies are protective and are told in an attempt to evade the outcomes of truth-telling. They are regularly harmless lies, aimed to not upset the other person in an attempt to watch out for their feelings or told with the purpose of helping with social interaction and building relationships with others based on delivering what they want to hear. However, habitual lying is pathological. The person lies even if they aren’t looking out for a personal gain, to the point that the lies they tell make up a great amount of their identity.”

However, while spotting compulsive lying in children differs from age to age, it’s always the first step towards being able to address the issue accordingly and trying to do something about it, if not just properly acknowledging it.

So the question is how to spot compulsive lying in children?

Many compulsive liars develop flawless lying techniques as they get more and more experience with lying, so it’s easier to spot them earlier on in their development. The most common signs of lying are:

– A disguised smile.

– Pause in speech, most often marked by fillers such as “um”, “uh”, “ah” to buy themselves more time to come up with another lie, or ways to elaborate on their fabricated truths.

– Stiff head position, the lack of movement usually indicates a certain nervousness in being caught in a lie if they make any suspicious movement, but at the same time the same nervousness will make them fiddle with whatever they have at hand, marking an increased rate of self-adapters, like cracking their knuckles, rubbing the back of their head, scratching their nose and the like.

– A change in the tone of their voice, either appearing more high-pitched or speaking at a slower rate.

– Inconsistency in their lies, because of how deeply rooted the habit of lying is in their system, habitual liars tend to not pay all that much attention to the lies themselves and more often than not, they lose track of everything they make up, which makes it easier to catch them when they’re not being truthful, once lies have piled up and started making no sense when put together.

Spotting the signs of lying in a person and addressing the issue on the spot doesn’t always mean that the habit of lying will be cured, as compulsive lying is usually a sign of other underlying disorders being present, and those should be discovered and addressed first, in order to get to changing the pathological lying habit. Since we’re talking about compulsive lying in children, it’s very likely that the parenting style they have been exposed to is the prime suspect here, influencing and shaping the child’s personality, and since they’re still little the parenting style can be adapted in order to diminish the issues already created.

The key factor that sits at the base of pathological lying is the presence of insecurities, created by the parents. A habitual liar will fabricate truths in order to seek the validation they desire from their parents, friends and whoever else they are trying to impress. Because of the same insecurities and fears, they will lie in order to get out of conflicts that arise between them and their friends or family, making up lie after lie until they’re safe.

Other times, a habitual liar might make things up in order to entertain the people around them or in order to boost their own self-confidence in social situations, or to hide any sort of embarrassment suffered in public as well as hide that they might not be as well versed in a certain area of interest and instead appear well-knowledged, be it when discussing movies, games or anything else.

However, another thing with pathological liars is that, at times, they might lie without needing a reason to do so and it’s one of the most common and particular characteristics of the compulsive liar disorder. Being a habit, lying comes much easier to them than telling the truth, or they might feel like it’s more natural to add to the truths before delivering them. At times it might seem harmless, funny or cute, but if you allow your child to hold onto the habit and develop it further, it will reach a point where the lies will only be harmful to others, no longer being acceptable once they go past their cute child stage.

With all that being said, problems such as anxiety or depression in children can lead to them feeling the need to lie, and the more they use lies as ways to temporarily escape issues they may be facing, the more they will actually get addicted to it and end up forming a habit out of lying.

If you think your child might be struggling with any personality disorder and feel like they show signs of being a compulsive liar, it’s best to take them to a professional and check if your suspicions are anything to worry about or if you might be misinterpreting things. A therapist or even a school counselor should be able to tell if anything needs to be addressed. Your child cannot correct their behavior on their own, especially if they might not even be aware that they’re doing something they shouldn’t be doing, so your support is the most important factor you should take into account when attempting to help your child.