Telling Lies

© Galina Barskaya | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Some kids lie about everything, others only lie when trying to avoid punishment while a select few can be brutally honest.  We all lie and most parents know that their kids lie too, but why?  Huff Post “parents” reports on the facts about children and lying.

One mom had this experience and commented, “[what bothered me the most was show adamantly he would insist they weren’t lies] It’s not like I’d preferred if he as a good liar, but it was confusing that he chose to lie about things he a) didn’t need to lie about and b) that were so easy to call him out on.”

Research has revealed that lying, more specifically, learning to lie and experimenting with lying is a natural part of growing up and maturing cognitively.

According to various studies conducted by Canadian researcher Kang Lee. Some lying is “healthy” lying — fantasy and imagination at work, like a four-year-old’s lie about her teddy bear telling her a secret. Other lies are “white lies” told to benefit another or to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, and which tend to start around age six. Most lies kids — and, for that matter, adults — tell are more self-serving, however, and told to avoid trouble or punishment. This sort of lie from a three-year-old might come out as “someone else” spilling the apple juice on the living room rug. A 10-year-old who’s insecure about his math abilities might lie about having already done his math homework.

What about the kid who lies just for the fun it ?

Some studies suggest that children with better cognitive abilities tend to lie more, since lying requires first keeping the truth in mind and then manipulating that information. The ability to lie successfully requires even more in the way of thinking and reasoning.

Lying proficiency has also been linked to good social skills later on, in adolescence.

How do you deal with the latter type of lie?

Huff Post suggests the first step in figuring out how to address a lie is to consider why your child (or adult for that matter)is telling it.

Is the child trying to avoid trouble? Save face? Is he old enough to understand that lying is wrong? A three-year-old who won’t cop to coloring on the wall knows that wall coloring is bad, but may not quite understand that lying about it isn’t.  In such a case, instead of threatening him with punishment, gently point out that you think he may know more than he is letting on, and then thank and praise him if he comes clean.This can foster more truth-telling in the future.

Don’t set kids or adults up to lie.  If you know a child has spilled milk on the living room rug because you saw it happen, don’t ask her if she spilled milk on the rug. Instead, ask her why it happened. If you know your 16-year-old has been smoking because you found cigarettes in his car, don’t ask him if he’s smoking.  Ask him when he started.

Try to head lying off at the pass: If you sense a lie is coming, say, “It makes me happy when you tell me the truth.” And keep in mind yourself that lying is different from not sharing. With kids of any age, help encourage the notion of truth telling by practicing it yourself.  Most adults issue “harmless” lies all day long, within earshot of children.

Do you have any tricks of the trade when it comes to trying to illicit the Truth?

Share them with the Humintell Community.

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