I took a break from work over the Christmas period and switched onto a documentary called Making of a Murder on Netflix.  Here’s the over view of this series…

Netflix’s Making a Murderer — a bleak, somber true crime documentary that consists mainly of courtroom footage — has become an unexpected sensation. The series, which traces the story of Wisconsinite Steven Avery, uses Avery’s case as a lens to examine the American legal system as a whole. Avery was convicted of a vicious sexual assault in 1985 but exonerated after nearly two decades in prison, when DNA evidence cleared him of the crime and led to the conviction of someone else. However, in 2005, just a couple of years after Avery’s 2003 release, he was the last person to see photographer Teresa Halbach alive — and evidence seemed to suggest he killed her. Avery went to trial in 2007, was convicted of Halbach’s murder, and has been in prison ever since.

Source and interesting article: Netflix’s Making a Murderer: the directors explain what many have missed about the series – Vox

It’s not that it’s seems so fantastical as to how the case unfolded but the treatment of the individuals accused that shocked me, especially the 16 year old nephew who is co-accused of doing murder.

I couldn’t watch what happened to him… right on camera… with even experts in collecting confessions expressing concerns over how he was questioned and the form of his so called confession.

This is a young man… with an IQ of 69 (that’s really low) who clearly did not know what the impact of his words were… He just didn’t have the intellectual capacity to comprehend and did what he was told.  He was lying to stop the adults from interrogating him.

He’s been programmed since birth to do what he was told…

His survival mechanism kicked in and he did what he thought he needed to do to get out of the situation… he complied.

He lied.

He guessed many times until he got out what they wanted him to say and in the end… he even wrote and drew pictures with the interrogators/investigators telling him what to do.

So after hours of relentless coercion and pressure and obvious confusion, he repeated back what the interrogators wanted him to and not what he knew was his truth.  He tried to speak and write his truth but was shut down…

Called a liar and threatened with his mom being really angry with him for telling a lie (which of course was a lie, his mom didn’t have anything to do with the law enforcement and this child had no protection from these determined adults).

And it made me wonder…

Just how blind can we as adults be?

Because I’m sure that those people pressuring, bullying and feeding him what to say… truly believed he did something wrong.  Because if I don’t believe that… then I have to believe they are evil people who do not see the worth of this young man’s life and that it’s a conspiracy against the family.

And so now a 16 year old young man(child) is in prison wondering if he’ll get out in time to watch a big football game coming up (yep… he said that to his mom, which shows you that he truly does not understand what the impact of his complying with the interrogators).

So as a parent, I reflected back and remember times when my parents (and other adults around me) did not believe me… and sometimes that was valid.  Because I had to lie to save my butt… that’s what a lie is about…

Why do children lie?

It’s preservation… a natural reflex in our emotional brain when we perceive a threat.  In parent/child/adult relationships the balance of power is naturally against the child in both size and cognitive thinking… they know you think faster than them and you’re the one that doles out UN-natural consequences (check this Blog post by Dr Shefali who talks about “Are Punishments and Consequences Different?” and where you may be getting it wrong).

Who wants to be punished? Shamed?  Yelled at?  Feel unloved?

No one…

So a lie is a natural reflex for self preservation.

When a parent asks me why or complains that their child lies to them I share these insights with them with them and then ask “Why do we ask questions when we already have the answer in our head?”  Many times we prejudge the child and find them guilty and then turn into an interrogator and essentially force the child down the rabbit warren to try and escape punishment.  There’s no way out for them but to lie continually.

How to avoid being lied to..

Stop asking obvious questions… the one’s you already know the answer to!Discussion verses argument - why children lie

When the behaviour is right there in front of you OR you know that it’s highly likely they did the act… then don’t ask for confirmation and expect the truth back… it’s not going to happen.

A child learns how to lie quite well by the age of 4 years old.  It’s nature at it’s best.

The child is actually doing this as a process of untangling the belief that they’re magically connected to mum and dad… that you can see right into their brain and know what they’re thinking.  Because for many pre-verbal years and after, that’s exactly what you did… anticipated their needs and met them.

They begin to lie to test out just how much you know and it’s a natural progression to developing a personal identity… they learn they are an individual by understanding their boundaries and limits to the connection to others.

So much of the troubling behaviour of a toddler is actually boundary determination!

Saying “No”, asking “Why?” and lying are all part of the process of learning to become and individual.

It’s how you react that will determine the strength and the depth of a liar they will turn out to be.  Overly punish a child for lying and they will naturally fear you and their in-built self preservation will kick in time and time again and they will continue to lie and get excellent at it!

If you want that to reduce (you’ll never stop lying and neither will they) then the opposite is required…

Stop asking questions when you already know the answer.

Instead, stop… connect and understand what’s happening for them first.  Truly step into their shoes and name their experience for them!

Empathise instead of criticise (you can correct behaviour once the whole truth… and nothing but the truth.. is discovered)

For every action/behaviour there is always a cause behind it.

For every cause there is always a belief/thought/need behind it.

Our role is to move beyond the behaviour and discover the cause and then the thoughts/need behind that.

By doing this we can address the core of the issue and not the symptom.


Your child will learn to trust you with their emotions and feel accepted…

They will be more open to learning a better way to address their need (core of the issue)…

You’ll take away many the automatic reaction that is behind why children lie to you…


It will be long lasting, instead of a quick fix that you need to continually do over and over again because they keep on doing it!

You are their greatest teacher… model it, and show them their worth by taking the time to understand and help them.

If you’re unsure of how to connect, empathise and unravel the inner world of your child, then perhaps you would be a great candidate for our online Peaceful Parenting ProgramCheck it out here… we’ll be running one again shortly!


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