A Lying Child Equals a Frustrated Parent
Parent: “Why are your hands in your pants?”
Child: “nothing, I didn’t do anything.”
After negotiating J with child to show their hands. The child’s hands were covered in white paint. Coincidently all the doors in the house were just painted white.
Parent: “Which door did you touch?”
Child: “I didn’t touch anything”
Clearly the child is lying. This is a true story from me and our 5 year old yesterday.
Children lie for many reason: to get out of trouble, they don’t want to admit guilt (above), for personal gain, to protect someone’s feelings (white lie), receive a reward or just a power trip. All children will experiment with lying to see if it effective for them. It is a parents and caregivers job to instill the importance of honesty. Parents need to model and effectively explain to children the differences between the little white lies and dishonesty.
Lying is part of a child’s normal emotional and social development. Children learn to effectively lie around 2-4. Children learn to lie from parents as well as others in their environment. However by age 4, a child does know the difference between truth and lying. By age 4 a child does know and understand it is wrong to lie. Hence why it is sometimes hard to get them to actually tell the truth. As a child gets older and their cognitive development increases they can become more proficient at lying.
We as adult need to explain the difference about truth, lying and white lies. White lies are taught at a young age, such as don’t say anything it’s a surprise or don’t tell her you didn’t like the dress. We need to model the behavior we expect out of the children around us in our lives. Trust and honesty is a constant lesson. Communication like in all matters of life is key. There needs to be communication with the child to find out why they lied so you can use it as a learning experience. Being calm when dealing with lying is another key as you do not want to frighten the child into not being truthful and honest this or the next time they are inclined to lie. The story of the little boy who cried wolf is a good story explaining that when the little boy finally really needed help no one believed him. We constantly want to teach and guide children that telling the truth is easier then lying.
There are extreme cases where children are taught how to lie to keep another parent from finding out something bad the parent did (example: leave a young child home alone) or to hide abuse. We need to raise confident children so a child know they are safe and it’s always best for them to tell the truth. Lying in extreme cases can be a sign or desperate cry for attention. Lying convincingly is hard for young children (paint on hands as above) however as children get older if the learn how to lie and do in convincingly that can lead into issues with social skills and be associated with negative & disruptive and aggression.