Children and Lying

“When your toddler looks you in the eye and says “Mommy, my doll broke it!”, your’re torn between laughing out loud and worrying she’ll become a mini Bernie Madoff.  But research from the University of Toronto says that lying not only is a normal part of childhood but also might mean your kid is an extra-clever cookie.  Researchers asked kids ages 3-8 to avoid peeking at a covered toy, then left the room for a few minutes.  Virtually all the kids looked, but more than half denied it.  “The best liars were the ones with the most highly developed executive function-they had the ability to plan and carry out actions.” says study author Kang Lee, Ph.D. So the next time your kid drops a whopper, respect her smarts, then use the opening for a talk about why it’s important to tell the truth. ”

This article is from Parents Magazine (Sorry, I didn’t record the edition!).  But it illustrates a couple important concepts.  For toddlers, lying does reflect creativity and for the sake of the child’s self esteem, that should be noted.  Also, when you point out that you expect them to always tell the truth or that lying is bad, if you have first complimented them on their creativity, that will help them swallow the “be good…lying is bad” message.

Secondly, lying is a learned skill.  It is tough to be honest, especially if you know if/when you tell the truth, there is a good chance that you will get in trouble.  Think about it, how often do you lie during your day…avoid telling the truth, sugar-coat it, change the subject, etc.  And we expect toddlers to have the same courage we at times fail to have!

Now, to be fair, what I am discussing above is different from the child/adolescent that is lying on a regular basis and/or the situation above is different from how to respond to the child/adolescent who is lying.  The above article is addressing lying in children who are 5-ish and under.

More later.

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