Lying in Children: Why Kids Lie & How to Prevent it
Children are certainly adorable, cute, funny and they can have us eating out of their hands at times. Parents want to give their children everything they didn’t have as a child plus more but what really matters when you are raising your children? Is it the “gimme, gimme, gimme, I want, I want? What is more important to you as a parent in regards to your children? The material gifts, clothes, toys, and electronics are only part of the package but what qualities to do want to instill in your children? You want them to trust you and you want to trust them so you as a parent have to set a good example when you are speaking to other people. Children constantly mimic their parent’s behavior. If someone comes to the door and asks for you, and you tell your child to tell that person you are not home, you are starting a bad habit of lying. You might think a little white lie doesn’t hurt once in a while but this can become very serious. Research has shown that children that lie constantly when they are young without consequences are most likely to end up with behavioral disorders including being a psychopath.
Children may lie for many different reasons – to get out of school-related assignments, or because they don’t want to be punished for something bad they have done. The best ways to spot lying are to watch your child’s facial expressions and try to catch the changes in their voice tones and emotional expressions. You sure aren’t happy and actually, maybe a bit disturbed when you catch your child lying but try to always think about the ways you can respond to this situation. Parents should be emotionally mature in order to provide the opportunity for growth in your child. Here are some tips to use in order to spot your child lying.
Observe eye contact
Avoidance of eye contact or a continued unusual eye contact are the most common signs of lying in little children. If your kids are a bit older, they would maybe maintain eye contact for a long time, with an unusual expression of defiance or sincerity. Watch for frequent blinking when they are trying to maintain the eye contact because it could be a sign they are trying to deceive you.
Different facial expressions
The brief moments of sadness, fear, anger, surprise or despair are called micro-expressions and they often occur when people try to hide their feelings. The micro expressions are hardly noticeable because they last less than a second, so the best thing to do is to look your child in the face while discussing the issue. If their emotions seem out of place, this could indicate that they are lying.
- Surprise looks like raised and curved eyebrows, horizontal wrinkles in the center of their forehead, eyes wide open and slack of jaw
- Fear is expressed with both eyebrows raised and a slight frown, wrinkles in the middle of their forehead, mouth open, tense lips
- Sadness can be observed when the child looks down, eyes are closed, cheeks are raised upwards. Corner of lips are turned down.
If your child is constantly moving and doesn’t stand still while talking to you, this could indicate the child is lying. Here are some signs:
- Constantly moving hands
- Shifting in their seat
- Moving their feet back and forth
Facial cues and touching
Studies have found that there is a correlation between some facial expressions that tell an authority figure the child is lying. Watch to see if they are licking or biting their lips, touching their ears, face, nose, and head while talking.
Look for body movements like your child holding their hands behind their back, shifting from one foot or another, sitting on their hands and rocking, or constantly shifting from hands to feet. Body language and different gestures always give away the lie, and you can notice this kind of behavior in all people, not just kids. It could be as simple as constantly blinking their eyes. Here are some gesture signals.
- Scratching and talking
- Moving fingers for no reason
- Shaking and nodding the head
- Constant shifts of the feet and legs
- Rocking in their seat
Listen to the pitch of their voice and if the pitch starts to change, your child might be uncomfortable due to stress, fear, anxiety, or bottled up emotions. These are all signs of lying and your child might not be comfortable because they know you can sense their deceit.
If your child starts repeating your questions, they are buying more time to think up of a lie. An example of this is “How was school”? Your child repeats the question to the parent simply because the child is avoiding the answer because they don’t want to talk about it.
Your child might avoid responding to your simple question because they don’t want to lie. They might start a totally different subject to avoid answering your question. When you ask the question again and you receive an unusual answer, it could be a lie.
Don’t be an investigator
It’s very important to have a loving and trusting relationship with your kids because that way, they will think twice before they lie to you. Don’t pressure your child if you feel they are lying. Pressure can cause your child to become evasive and then they are encouraged not to be truthful. The little boy who cried wolf is a great story that can be a constant reminder to your kids that lying can have very bad consequences. And as a parent, always be a role model for your little ones.
Lying and age
As your children age, their lying will evolve as well as the truth. Lying was very obvious to spot with young children but as they grow up, after the lying the guilt will come. Your answers and behavior should depend on their age and the level of maturity. For example, a younger child might say “I didn’t break that” as you know that they were the only one home. An older child between the ages of 9 and 12 would probably experience guilt if they ate the chocolate you made for the company. Most likely, they will admit it and accept defeat. You should then have more conversations and keep the door open. Raising children is not always easy, but it is important to teach your children not to lie and teach them that they will have consequences if they do continue to lie.