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How to Be Your Child's Lie Detector

It’s 8:00 p.m. You’re sitting in your recliner, reading the evening paper, when eight-year-old Penelope sprints through the living room, screaming, “Dad! Mom! He’s gonna hit me!” Three steps behind is ten-year-old Jaxon, menacingly holding a baseball bat over her head.


(A) reach for your phone and punch 9-1-1

(B) leap out of your chair, wondering what to do next

(C) hope your spouse will handle this skirmish.

In moments like this, parents need the skills of a prosecuting attorney at a murder trial.

Having raised a large brood of children, I discovered an acronym golfers use which proves useful. It’s called the GASP principle. The letters stand for grip, aim, stance and posture. Though it applies to the game of golf, it works equally well in parenting.

GRIP: This is vital in emergencies. You leap out of your chair, grip the assailant by the back of his shirt with one hand and grip the bat with the other.

AIM: Your tone of voice must sound menacing as you aim comments at the perceived culprit. “Jaxon! What in the world do you think you’re doing?!

STANCE: Not only must your voice exude authority, but your stance must also. Some parents favor the fists-on-hips stance, but arms-crossed-over-chest will work. You must look threatening.

POSTURE: This is similar to stance. Parents must pull themselves to their full height and loom over the offender to procure a full confession. This becomes a challenge when the child stands six feet tall, and Mom is only five feet three.

Once the stage is set, the parent then assumes the role of prosecuting attorney. “All right, you two. Who started it?!”

This is where it gets interesting. Either one will tell the truth and the other will—um, shade the truth to his or her advantage, or both will claim innocence.

An article by a police detective, also a parent, taught me how human lie detectors work.

The detective said, “The eyes are the window of the soul. Many of us have experienced the child who looks at the floor when asked if they have done something wrong. They are afraid you will read the deceit in their eyes. Most young children who look directly into your eyes as they answer, are telling the truth. As children grow older, they learn how to hide those obvious reactions…”

He continues, “The left side of the brain contains the memory. The right side of the brain has everything to do with creativity and imagination. The connection from the eyes to the brain is reversed. You guessed it! A person’s eyes move to the right when they recall memory, and to the left when they are making up a story.

All it takes is a little practice and effort and your children will soon start thinking you can read their minds.”

While writing this article, I experimented on my grandchildren. It worked on one but not the other. I consulted police officers and a former detective, to check the validity of this practice. They confirmed that it works only part of the time.

My unscientific reasoning is, some people become good at convincing themselves, as one little boy did, when asked the definition of a lie. He said, “A lie is an abomination to God and a very present help in time of trouble.”

Obviously, this method of human lie detecting isn’t foolproof, yet could prove useful in the exasperating job of being a parental referee. Try it on your own offspring and let us know if it worked for you.

Did you try this on your children or grandchildren? Tell us about it in the comments box below.


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