Kids and the Art of Lying

Kids understand the art of lying at an early age. Parenting expert Maureen Healy says fibbing is a part of a child's natural development and helps him or her test limits and learn about acceptable and unacceptable behavior. While Canadian research indicates that toddlers who lie are often highly intelligent, what happens when stretching the truth, or avoiding it altogether, becomes a problem? And how should mom and dad react?

Related: How to get your kids to stop lying

"They're trying to outsmart us from the beginning," says Healy, author of Growing Happy Kids, tells Away We Grow host Diane Mizota. "So if your child is telling a little lie, I guess there good news is they're probably super smart."

How can you tell if your child is lying? They get the wiggles. If your kids fidget, have unusual eye contact--or can't make eye contact at all--that's a sign there's some truth being stretched. "They might be changing their stories, or if they're normally one way they might be really acting another way," says Healy, whose expertise is in helping parents with their child's emotional health.

When kids do lie, it's common for parents to be upset and react negatively. But moms and dads need to recognize that sometimes, telling the truth can be really hard. A code word could help diffuse the situation. Healy explains: "Say you're a little boy who threw your baseball through the dining room window and your mom doesn't know? How do you go tell her? So you might wanna have a code word and say, 'Okay blue elephant.' And if your son or daughter says that then you say, 'Okay, let's sit down, let's talk about, let's have a serious discussion.' Come to them from a calm  place. And that might mean you go take some deep breaths....and then come to them from a place of clarity, versus just anger and fear."

Most importantly, let your child know that you're their partner and you make mistakes, too. Adds Healy, "The goal is for us to become better and better and live the happiest and best lives we possibly can live, so let's work on this together and to be as calm as possible."

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