By Blanca Cobb, Body Language and Lie Detection Expert
Finding a sitter can be a challenge for many parents. Parents look for sitters who are responsible, dependable, reliable and likable. Once parents find a sitter who’s a good fit for their family, they assume their sitter will be honest about the daily activities involving their kids. It’s no secret that everyone lies, yet when it comes to the care and safety of our kids, babysitters innocent lies don’t seem quite so innocent. Research indicates that 80% of lies go undetected. With strategic body language moves and word choices parents can help ensure their sitters will be honest.
Here are four common situations that sitters tend to lie about and strategies to prevent your sitter from lying to you:
1) Situation: Many sitters lie to protect themselves from uncomfortable feelings of telling parents that their kids were misbehaving. It’s much easier to minimize the wrong doings of the kids than report specific misbehavior. Many parents ask, “How did everything go tonight?” It’s too easy for sitters to give one-word responses, “good” or “fine.”
Solution: Parents should ask open-ended questions, which require sitters to give more than a one-word answer. Also, parents should ask specific questions that will hone in on the answers their looking for. Examples of open-ended and specific questions: “Tell me how the kids got along tonight.” “What activities did you all do?” “What vegetables did Charlie eat for dinner?”
2) Situation: Sitters cringe at the thought of kids getting hurt on their watch. When the kids get hurt, sitters worry about explaining the mishap to parents. They also wonder whether they’ll still have a job. Some sitters may put the blame on the kids or not detail what happened because of these concerns. In essence sitters may not tell the whole story, which is also known as lies of omission.
Solution: To decrease lies of omission, parents should use open body language such as open palms facing upward, arms out in front of their body, body posture facing the sitters. These body language moves will help the sitter feel comfortable in talking freely to the parents. Additionally, parents should monitor their tone of voice and their rate of speech. When excited, irritated or angry, people tend to raise their voices and talk faster. These vocal differences can make a sitter uncomfortable and unwillingly to talk freely.
3) Situation: Many times sitters lie because they’re embarrassed that the kids pulled the rug out from under them so to speak. For example, the kids may say that they’re allowed to play with the hose on a hot summer day when in fact they aren’t. As a result the freshly planted flowers drown in water. Sitters may not want to admit to the parents that the kids schooled them. Everyone has pride. Sitters may minimize what happened with the drowned flowers to save face.
Solution: To help sitters feel in control, parents should write out all rules so the sitters can refer to them as needed. Also, parents can also inform the sitters of situations when their kids will try to pull the wool over the sitter’s eyes. Parents may even share a story of when the kids got the best of them. Normalizing the experiences helps the sitters feel less threatened. When people feel understood they’re less likely to lie.
4) Situation: Your kids report that your sitter was texting and driving when she was taking them to the park. You ask your sitter, “Did you text while driving with my kids in the car?” Sitter’s response, “Well, I looked at my phone when I was at stop lights.”
Solution: Notice that the sitter didn’t answer the specific question. Sure, she gave an answer, but didn’t answer the question you asked. In these situations, repeating your question is usually enough to get the sitter to level with you.
With strategic communication, you can increase the chance that your sitter will be straight with you. Don’t you deserve to know the truth?