Tell when Your Child Is Telling a Lie

Edited by Angel Hammer, Lynn, Eng, Ian Gabriel T. Tolledo and 2 others

JulMol meme.png
Doormouse88 dontlie.jpg

No one likes to be lied to; it's just plain rude. There are some circumstances, however, where being lied to can be not only rude, but dangerous as well. As a parent, you will want to be able to discern whether or not your little one is being upfront with you about things. Build confidence in your lie detecting abilities by following the simple procedures below. Keep in mind the normal range of behavior in your own child for comparison, (no one knows them better than you).

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Spotting the not-so obvious

  1. 1
    Gut and instinct
    If you have a feeling your child might be lying to you, trust your gut instinct, and note the body language of your child. If they are stiff, defensive, or avoiding eye contact, then it's a good indication that he is hiding something from you.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help
  2. 2
    Note speech patterns
    Many times when someone is lying, they will mock what you say, or repeat it back to you. For example if you were to ask, "did you sneak out of the house last night?", they would answer, "no I did not sneak out of the house last night" rather than saying simply "no". Another example, if you ask "where have you been last night"? He might say "why would you say that", or "why will I go out"? These are natural defenses people do when they lie, kids included.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help
  3. 3
    Note the muscles used for expression of emotion in the face
    Muscle isolation indicates a lie; for example a lying individual who is trying to fake a pleasant emotion would smile only with the mouth. A person who is not telling a lie, but smiling out of happiness will smile with the eye and cheek muscles as well. Look at his shoulders and arms, if they're crossed your child might be protecting something and is likely hiding it from you.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help
  4. 4
    If responses to asked questions seem forced, are overly delayed, or if the child doesn't directly answer your question, it may indicate a lie
    For example if you ask the question, "son did you clean your room?" and he answers it by saying, "what do you think?" rather than a simple yes or no, that could indicate a lie. Overcompensating answers are also possible, like say you ask the same question, he would say "oh yes, I even cleaned the bathroom".
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Why children lie


Most children lies at some point in their lives, no one told them or instructed them to lie, but they still do, these are instinctive defenses that we can say are embedded in our genes. However, it can be a real surprise for you as a parent the first time you knew your child lied to you. Rest assured though that lying is a part of a child's development - as well as telling the truth. Children tell lies for many, many reasons, depending on the nature of events and their motivation, they lie to:

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help
  • Cover something up, it may be a wrong thing they did, hoping to avoid the consequences for their actions or your punishment
  • Experiment and explore with their parents' reactions and responses.
  • Exaggerate a simple story or impress others (especially their friends)
  • Gain more attention, even when they knew that the listener already knows the truth.
  • Manipulate a circumstance or set something up for their good, for example, saying to grandma, 'my mom lets me have cookies after dinner'.

When do children start lying


children are able to learn to tell lies even from their early age, generally by around the age of three years old. This is during the time they learn that adults are not able to read minds, and that they can manipulate ideas or give people false information - they do this primarily to get out of trouble or cover up. Children lies more when they reach the age of 4-6. They naturally become more skilled at telling lies through way of body language or just being good actors themselves, however they tend to implicate themselves and push to explain further.

a study says that a four-year-old are able to lie about once every two hours while a six-year-old about every 90 minutes tops. When your child reached school-age, he may lie more often and would be able to do it more convincingly than ever. His lie may also become more sophisticated, as his vocabulary expands and he learns to understand how other people think better. By eight, your child may be able to lie successfully without getting caught.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

What to do when your children lies


maintain a positive Outlook, explain and emphasis to your child the importance of being honest in your family. Make sure she understands the repercussions and results of lying. Tell your child that you will better appreciate it when they tell you the truth and that you don't like it when you're being lied to. As an example, say 'when you lie to me, I feel disappointed and sad'. Also, you can try giving him books, or better yet read him a story that highlights the importance of being an honest person.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help
  • If your child happens to tell you something that you know is imaginary or simply make-believe, you can just go along with it. This phenomenon is very important to his development. If he told you he's a superhero, you might as well indulge him a little and ask him about his superpowers.
  • Help your child to avoid situations where he might feel the need to lie. For example, if you see him spill his drink, don't ask, and 'did you spill your drink?' this may cause him to lie just to get out of trouble. To avoid this, you should go and say 'I see that there's an accident with your drink, come on, I will help you clean it up'.
  • Some kids employ exaggeration and bragging to get respect and admiration from other people, if you find this happening often, consider praising your child more to boost his self-esteem.
  • Remember to put up rules about what is unacceptable behavior in your house. Most children behave more likely within boundaries if there are enforced rules.
  • Always praise your child for good behavior especially if he admitted something without you doing anything to force it out of him. It will stay on his mind forever and possibly diminish lies in the future.
  • Explaining to your child the consequence of lying will put him in the right track.

Tips, tricks and warning

  • These things do not mean for certain that you are being lied to; they simply indicate that a lie is significantly more likely to be taking place. Take them into consideration with the addition of what you already know about the behavior of your child. Do not jump to conclusions based on these steps alone.
  • Try the story of 'the boy who cried wolf' to give your child a clear example of how lying can work against a person.
  • It us generally better to teach your children the value of being honest and telling the truth instead of punishing them for all minor misdeeds, take note to praise your child when he is being honest.
  • Children sometimes like to make things up and exaggerate. They exaggerate some of their stories to give them a lot more 'color'. In fact, imagining and pretending are important to every child's growth and development. It will do your child good to encourage this kind of happening. 'Tall tales' they tell don't need to be treated as feeble lies, especially if your child is under four.
  • Never label your child as a liar; it will do more bad than good in the long run.
  • One way for you to discourage children through obvious lying is to produce a joke, or exaggerate this untrue statement. For example, your little one might explain any shattered toy simply by indicating, 'A homeless guy came by so I gave it'. You can state anything silly such as, 'Why didn't you invite your pet in for dinner? ' Carry on this scam a tad more time before your child 'confesses'. In this way, you uncover this rest as well as instruct any session with no need for self-discipline or perhaps struggle.
  • As children grow older, lies could become a pattern. If this lying is occurring a whole lot, make an arrangement time in order to sit calmly with your child. Talk to her about how precisely her lying allows you to feel, the way it influences your family, and what it will be like if friends and family stop relying on her.
  • Always tell your child when you realize for sure that he isn't telling the truth. Your child would need to know that honesty is very important to you. But try to refrain continuously asking him all the time if he is telling the truth.
  • Stick with your strictness when necessary! Research states that that it's certainly not until children are several or older that the parents' efforts pay back. Children whose parents discipline them regarding lying as well as praise these individuals for telling the truth lie less while they grow up.
  • Stay interested in your child's life and really encourage her to be truthful with you. Children of all ages who have good communication with their parents and talk to them in what they doing are more unlikely to do antisocial actions.

Questions and Answers

If you search your child's room are they more likely to lie?

You must need to establish friendship with your child. Let them open up to you and be more of a friend. However, you need to make sure that you go to parent mode again when you have to especially if it comes to discipline. You can follow these steps to help keep your child on telling the truth:

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  • establish the rule to always tell the truth
  • be a role model and refrain from telling little white lies
  • explain how telling the truth is better than lying
  • distinguish the reason for lying
  • give the one warning rule: when caught, tell your kid that they have one chance to explain what happened
  • when caught lying, make them do chores AND take away their phone/gaming console/computer/Tablet
  • tell your child what will happen if they lie until they grow up (the consequences)
  • praise them when they tell the truth
  • encourage them to tell the truth
  • approach with a calm mind when asking them about what happened, reacting madly may discourage them from telling the truth

When you do what is indicated above, you would not need to snoop around their room, they will talk to you about it instead of keeping it from you.

12 Years Old, how can you tell they are lying?

When you ask a 12 years old kid and he lies to you about taking $80.00 out off your wallet or sell phone cover. Says I didn't and smiles. Or says you are still carrying on about didn't taken it I had my friends here too.. I have tried: Ask to tell the truth in front of their friends, not allowing to go anywhere until he tells me where it was gone. I think it was caused by: Friends

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

Referencing this Article

If you need to reference this article in your work, you can copy-paste the following depending on your required format:

APA (American Psychological Association)
Tell when Your Child Is Telling a Lie. (2016). In VisiHow. Retrieved Mar 29, 2017, from

MLA (Modern Language Association) "Tell when Your Child Is Telling a Lie." VisiHow, Accessed 29 Mar 2017.

Chicago / Turabian "Tell when Your Child Is Telling a Lie." Accessed Mar 29, 2017.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


VisiHow welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.

Ask the author

Premier Author
11 Articles Started
66 Article Edits
2,765 Points
Doormouse88 is a premier author with VisiHow. Doormouse88 has achieved the level of "Corporal" with 2,765 points. Doormouse88 has started 11 articles (including this one) and has also made 66 article edits. 15,900 people have read Doormouse88's article contributions.
Doormouse88's Message Board
Doormouse88: Hi, my name is Doormouse88.
Doormouse88: Can I help you with your problem about "Tell when Your Child Is Telling a Lie"?

Article Info

Categories : Parenting

Recent edits by: Alma, Ian Gabriel T. Tolledo, Eng

Share this Article:

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 2,618 times.

Do you have a question not answered in this article?
Click here to ask one of the writers of this article

Thank Our Volunteer Authors.

Would you like to give back to the community by fixing a spelling mistake? Yes | No