I found a (seemingly) perfectly good slice of pizza in the trash. I became curious. So I asked both children if they did it. Both denied it. There is one other adult in the house. After questioning, I eliminated the other adult as a suspect. I know I did not do it (because it is not the type of thing I would do and I'm 99.9% certain I would remember doing it if I had). So that leaves two remaining suspects. Both children. (Ages 10 and 13). Both deny doing it.

Obviously, my concern here is not over the pizza itself but over the fact that someone is clearly lying to me. I questioned both suspects separately, then together, then separately again for approximately 30 minutes hoping one would "break" and confess. Neither did. I suspect one more than the other (call it 80-20) based on intuition and prior history (he lied last year about homework). But he vehemently denies throwing away the pizza to the end; neither suspect cracked an inch.

Also, a goal here is a learning experience. For example, there might come a time in the future when I have to determine which child is lying to me. So, I am searching for any "tells" or other behavior patterns that might be helpful in the future as well.

Has anyone else experienced a situation like this before? If so, how did you handle it and what was the outcome? Other ideas and/or advice is also welcome.

  • Have you tried questioning them separately?
    – Jax
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 23:30
  • What ages are them? Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 15:43
  • @DiegoSánchez: ages 10 and 13
    – Mowzer
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 16:53
  • 1
    Offer one of them a pizza slice to rat the other one out. The one who can be bought in such a manner is not someone who would throw out a pizza slice. Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 17:56
  • As long as your doing police-style interrogations, I ran into a retired cold-case detective the other day who said that when they questioned people separately, they'd tell each of them that they had just been talking with the other, and that he'd completely spilled the beans. That person would give some more information, and then they'd take that info to the other person, tell him his partner told them blank (which is true), scare the actual heck out of him, get more info, rinse, repeat. lol, don't try this at home... Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 14:14

2 Answers 2


The reason children lie is generally that they fear punishment. One way of getting the truth which I've used is to make it clear that no punishment is in the offing. In this case, you could say that there's nothing wrong with putting the pizza in the trash, but you just wanted to know why it was done - not enough refrigerator space, yucky pizza, or whatever - since that might affect what you do about it, such as whether to clean out the refrigerator or to order from a different pizza provider or order something other than pizza next time.

  • 2
    +1. Half the time, if you phrase the question as an open "Why did this happen?" instead of an accusing "Who did this?" they will answer truthfully immediately, because they're not afraid of what happens when they answer. (Assuming you don't teach them that they get punished for answering the open question honestly.)
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 14:39
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    @Erik - that can possibly work, as long as the phrase "the f--k" is not between "why" and "did".... Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 17:58

I am not sure if the following is a good idea but I have tried it in the past: declare martial law and have them both grounded, the one who will take it easily is the guilty one. The innocent one will try to resist as he/she has done nothing wrong.

  • 2
    This can work but if the kids have different personalities, that could affect their reactions too.
    – Warren Dew
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 18:27
  • 4
    I wouldn't promote unfair punishment, especially when it's over a pizza slice.
    – Bradman175
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 1:11
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    Or lead to the "Great, I am f*cked too, so why should I stick to the rules next time?" reaction in the innocent sibling. So no, I also highly doubt that this is a good idea.
    – Stephie
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 18:34
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    In addition, they could kamikaze each other with this rule.
    – Bradman175
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 1:52

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