When kids lie

When kids lie

5 tips to help you tell if your kid’s lying…

When kids lie

The older kids get, the better they get at lying. Probably because they learn from every time you catch them out. Have you showered? Yes. A bathroom inspection will reveal the bone-dry shower cubicle. Score one for mom. Next time, he’ll run the water for a few seconds, but forget to dampen a towel. The time after that he’ll toss the towel onto the wet floor for authenticity, but forget to wet his hair. Fast forward a few years and he’s a straight-faced master fibber.

Here are 5 tips to help you tell if they’re lying:

  1. Watch the face. Flushing, rapid blinking, flaring nostrils and failure to make eye contact can all be red flags.
  2. Voice cues. Stuttering, stammering, quavering, talking louder or softer than normal could be cause for suspicion.
  3. Body language. Are they fidgeting, rubbing their necks, leaning away from you or standing with their arms crossed? Are their hands in their pockets, or are their fists clenched?
  4. Watch out for speech clues like taking a long pause before answering a question, speaking more slowly, giving inconsistent details, saying ‘um’ and ‘ah’ more than usual.
  5. Track their eyes. Eyes travelling to the upper right are trying to construct something, whereas the upper left direction indicates trying to access a memory (of something that really happened).


When they’ve lied and been caught out, how you respond is important if you want them to realise that honesty is important to your relationship.

Stay calm. Flipping out may mean they’ll be reluctant to come to you next time. Don’t call them ‘liars’. Labels make confrontations personal, when what you really need to focus on is the action. Help them work on a solution, then let them fix it (if age appropriate). Understand the reason for the lie. It could be they were afraid of letting you down, or are too troubled to open up to you. And finally, role model honesty yourself: be the person you expect your child to be.

Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Your Family’s Digital editor. Avid retweeter. When I’m not scrolling Instagram you’ll find me in my garden. Keen on DIY and I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed with some chalk paint.


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