I don’t usually like to take the easy parenting road by, say, tricking children or lying to them. Also, I don’t think you teach your kids not to do the thing you don’t want them to do by doing that thing yourself. Like, I don’t think yelling at a kid teaches them that yelling isn’t cool. (I’m not saying I never yell; I’m saying that when I do, I’m setting a pretty piss-poor example for my kid of how to deal with one’s frustration or anger.) Likewise, I would normally say that lying to a child about their lying is not the right way to go.
But it’s Evil Week, and sometimes a parent has to have a little fun.
Our kids are only little and gullible for so long! You’ll eventually long for the days when your children believed every fantastical word that came out of your mouth simply because they considered you to be the top authority on absolutely everything. It’s only a matter of time before you drop in status from Knower of All Things to Utter Imbecile. Which is why I think you should tell your kid that their very obvious lie is written on their forehead.
If you’ve never tried this, the result is not only effective, it is adorable. When they’re all, “But Mummy, I don’t know who made this giant mess where toilet paper has been strewn about the entire second floor of our home! It wasn’t me,” it’s time to respond with, “You know, when you lie, I can see your lie written across your forehead.”
Will this make them stop lying? Of course not! Instead, it will make them cover up their forehead with their hand in the world’s most obvious “tell.” It’s better than going all Pinocchio on them and trying to convince them their nose will grow upon muttering a lie. They might touch their nose or run to look in a mirror the first time, but they’ll be onto you pretty quick when that cartilage stays in place.
The forehead lie, on the other hand, is not immediately seen or felt and, of course, can fade pretty quickly or be wiped off when they slap at their own face in desperation. They may even enter the room, hand over forehead or hat pulled down low, in preparation for a lie they are about to tell.
Keep it going for as long as they fall for it, or use your own lie as a way to start talking to them about the difference between truth, lies, and “make believe,” all of which is totally developmentally appropriate.