Thursday, June 16, 2011


We tell lies every day. That top looks great. Sorry I didn’t hear my phone. These little white lies are sometimes the things that get us through the day. How do we explain and teach our kids though the difference or when it is and isn't ok to lie?

Lying is something people do daily, some are good at it and some aren’t, but how do we explain the subtle differences of lying and how can you teach when someone is lying. Repeatedly, I have told the Things, if someone if trying to get you to do something you don’t want to and you have told them no you can always say my mom won’t let me. That is a lie, we have taught the kids to lie to keep themselves safe, with a lie.

We start when our kids are young by just saying lying is bad don’t do it. Eventually we are caught in our own lies, hopefully not in front of a bunch of other adults, and revise the rules. We explain that sometimes to save someone’s feelings or to keep yourself safe lying may be alright. It seems like, since the moment the rule got revised we have been living in the gray area. The Things tend to learn the same way as most people, they ask is it ok to lie in this situation or that, or more often than not get caught lying themselves. Trying to navigate what is and isn’t acceptable can be tough, and this is a key part to me in social learning that kids must learn. When you are a pretty alert aware kid this is learning that just gets picked up naturally, but when you are not things needs to be a little more spelled out.

How kids learn and react to lying is really varied, even in this house. Thing Two seems to have a pretty innate ability to understand the power of lying. Two weighs his options if he is caught lying; he will admit to a lie when caught, and he is learning to judge when something is big enough not to lie and to just admit it and when to just hold out and deny the lie knowing the punshinment may not be huge.  Two is not easily fooled by people and has been able to start to read inflection or a look and wonder if someone is really telling the whole truth based on tone and body language. Two still struggles with the whole truth vs a half truth, and that is where he is at, learning to follow the principal not just the letter of the law, and what that all means. Lying is one of those areas that Thing One has struggled with forever.  She is a horrible liar, I know the minute she starts to tell me a lie.  She also isn't quite as adept at catching others lying, though she isn't gullible either.  The difference between them is that one is an observer of people and the other is distracted by non-person related things during a conversation. Additionally, the processing required to listen to what a person is saying, read their body language, interpret it all and get a response back out is delayed in One, that also may be why she can't decipher as well the difference between I want to know the truth and I know you are lying and their is serious punishment for trying to get one over on me. 

What is and isn't acceptable varies by social norms I have no concerns Two will manage wherever he is and find that sweet spot, I think One may always require a little extra help in this area. I have told One what her tell is, she won't look you in the eye when she is lying and is obviously is trying too, it looks quite funny.  I have told her this because she is genuine in who she is and when she lies this badly it doesn't seem like she is genuine it seem like she is being manipulative.  She needs to know it so she can either learn not to do it or opt not to lie.  Hopefully this also makes her aware and on the look out for the things other do when they aren't telling the truth.  Two, I won't tell him how I can tell when he is lying, I can barely tell now when he is lying and he is really good at spotting someone elses lies. What are we teaching them though, to deceive, that seems horrid.  Teaching the truth is what we are striving for, but sometimes not the whole truth and that may be the dividing line.

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