Center for Stepfamily Development
136 So. Academy Way
Eagle, Idaho, 83616
CAN PARENTS TELL WHEN KIDS LIE?
The research on kids who lie, indicate that some children begin to lie as young as age 3. At this age, children begin to understand the difference between lies and the truth. They'll even call their parents' attention to the fact by saying, "That's not what you said." And parents are the biggest "teachers" of lying! We do this by not following through with simple tasks, not being consistent; (ie) telling kids not to do something and then ignoring them when they continue to do it, not keeping our word when we promise something to our kids. We teach them, through example, that lying is a normal part of life, and morally acceptable. They enter the teen and adult years with the understanding that it is OK to lie....everyone does it.
By the teen years, parents are becoming more aware of the times, (and sometimes not so aware) when children lie. Teens also have the additional pressures of the need to be popular with their friends, seeing actors lie in movies and on television, and how society seems to accept lying. And the most common reason our children lie to us is to get what they want. However, as parents, we're not so happy with our teens lying about where they've been, grades, who they're hanging out with, what they're doing. Teens will lie by omission, also. Lying by omission is leaving out part of the account of an event....perhaps the teen's part in an activity that is not acceptable to parents.
How can parents tell when their children are lying? Here are some possible behaviors occuring when someone is lying.
1. The itchy nose! This may sound silly, but it is true. When you lie and feel guilty about lying, there is an increase in your blood pressure and heart rate. This will cause an engorgement of tissue in the nose, and the nose itches. Some experts call this the "Pinnochchio" effect.
2. Excessive fidgeting. People who lie have a difficult time sitting still, and again this is the adrenaline pounding through their system, causing them also to fiddle with a pen, pencil, jewelry, hair, crossing and uncrossing legs, etc.
3. Crossing arms. This behavior is a psychological and physical barrier separating the liar from the person to whom they're lying.
4. Speech problems. Stuttering, saying "uh" a lot, using "would not, could not, etc" instead of wouldn't, couldn't.
5. Leaning in towards the person to whom the liar is talking. This behavior from the liar is to get you to believe they are telling the sincere truth.
6. Swallowing a lot, drinking more...water, beverage if they have one close by. A liar will drink or swallow more than usual.
7. Licking or tightening their lips. The lying person will use their tongue to tighten the mouth, as if they're preventing the truth from getting in the way of what they're really saying.
8. Subtle changes in the story. Listen closely to key elements in what they're saying. Take note of several of these key elements and ask the person to tell you again about....."What was that about? I can't remember all the details of what you said."
It's important for parents to pay attention to their children's body language and learn to spot when kids are lying. Then parents can then help the child with telling the truth. This is not always easy to do, and children become experts at lying to their parents when parents are at their busiest. TAKE THE TIME TO REALLY HEAR WHAT YOUR CHILDREN ARE TELLING YOU. Children will become chronic liars if they are not given the opportunity to tell the truth.
If you're concerned about your child's lying habits and need professional help, call Marion M. Summers at the Center For Stepfamily Development, 208-322-2908, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.