children lying

How to Tell When Your Children Are Lying

Ever had that moment when your gut tells you something is off, when your detective skills go into hyperdrive trying to decipher what’s going on? It happens to a lot of parents when their kids lie, and most of us have caught our children lying. As a therapist, I have seen the destruction that lies can do in families and relationships. Whether it’s your 13-year-old daughter lying about who she’s talking to online or your 3-year-old children lying about coloring on the wall, it causes tension between parent and child.

Our society teaches kids to be entitled to do what they want regardless of the consequences. As a dad, I’m sure you’ve been faced with those moments when you aren’t quite sure if they are lying. When in doubt, here are 6 signs to look for to tell if your child is lying.

1. Lack of Eye Contact

Your child may be lying if he is avoiding looking at you. Some will even go so far to hide their face or eyes or keep looking down or away. Younger kids might actually run off and hide. We can tell so much from looking at someone’s eyes. Look for this clue if you think your child may be telling a falsehood.

Our society teaches kids to be entitled to do what they want regardless of the consequences.

2. Reactions That Are Out of Proportion

Have you ever heard someone totally overreact to something that isn’t a big deal? This can happen when a child is lying. Her words and reactions don’t match up with the situation. This can mean she knows more of what’s going on and is trying to defend herself about something you may not even know about yet.

3. Mood Swings

For some kids, this will be acting super sweet in order to hide what has happened. For others, it can be unusual anger or even withdrawing from the family. Depending on what is normal for your child, this could mean that your child is trying to hide something.

4. Swallowing and Clearing Throat

Nonverbals can give us a lot of clues to what may be going on. When a child is deliberately pausing his speech in a tense situation to swallow or clear his throat, this can be an indicator of fear and guilt. If you notice this behavior, it’s a clue to know the truth may not be out in the open.

5. Signs of Anxiety

Similar to the last one, you will often see a child seem anxious and stressed when lying. Kids may fidget, blink rapidly, or have a change in breathing. These nonverbal clues combined with other clues can indicate that your child is lying.

6. A Story That Doesn’t Fit

Some kids can be great storytellers, so use your detective skills and figure out the facts. Ask questions that can weed out the fiction. Some kids may avoid giving details in order to maintain the lie. This is the tangled web people can get trapped in. When a story just doesn’t make sense, it’s a good idea to explore it more.

Remember that each child is different and has different mannerisms. If you notice some or all of these traits, it doesn’t mean yours is lying. But it does mean you shouldn’t ignore it, and you should see if anything else is going on.

Sound off: What is the funniest way your child has tried to cover up something?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it is bad to lie?”