Does my child lie? Should I want my child to lie? The answer is yes. And I say yes as a proud confident parent of a 1-year-old future liar. This may sound concerning to you, but it’s true, I will be proud if/when my daughter tells a lie earlier than expected. And by expected, I mean prior to the average age in which most children begin to lie…
If you prefer to listen to the audio, go right ahead:
You see, a childs first lie is like his or her first word. It tells you, and whom ever hears it, that their brain is forming rational thought in line with perception. The rationale in lying is the first necessity to a lie – the process of evaluating the situation. The sooner [in life] your child begins to understand they are in a position of power in that they know something you do not, is a highly intellectual perception for a toddler. Some children do not begin to grasp this until 4 or 5 years of age. The practice of realizing you know something the person who is talking to you does not is the simplest form of mind reading. If your child shows you that they are aware you do not know what they do, they are showing you(if young enough) highly rational and mature thought processes.
When I first told my daughters’ mother I was going to be thrilled when Cali (our daughter) told her first lie, she looked at me with pure contempt – which, at first thought, is the correct response. This was and is because we all know lying is a bad habit. If we had good parents, we were punished when we were caught in a lie. My parents saw lying as one of the worst offenses. This is partially because it shows willingness to disobey, but also because it makes us feel so helpless. When someone very good at lying tells you a lie, here is the process they used to pull it off;
- They read your body language as you told your story, said your statement, or asked your question.
- Then, in a matter of seconds, they recalled from memory every possible scenario where you could have seen them or heard them do or not do what they are about to tell you.
- Next, they form the lie. This could be as simple as a yes or no. But, for the most sophisticated, they frame a fake story around their answer.
- And finally, they tell the lie.
Based on your body language, they will then know to stick with their lie or retort quickly, and possibly admit guilt.
For children who lie, this process is the same. So you can see what level of thought and awareness goes into lying. It’s no simple task to form a lie, give a lie, or especially, back up a lie. The sooner your child does commit their first lie, the better. How you respond and train them not to lie is a practice of good parenting that needs to follow, but that does not exclude the fact that the first lie your child tells is cognitive breakthrough, and you should be proud.
After reading this article, those of you who have raised children will probably recall from memory your child’s first lie. Think about it right now if that is you. Try to remember the situation, their body language, what each of you said, and if/when your child finally admitted the lie. If they executed it, you have no reason not to be proud. As toddlers, lying will be one of their most intellectual acts.
My daughter is 1 as I write this. Although I am planning my response to her first lie as we speak, I am hopeful and eager to hear it sooner than later. After she commits to that lie, I will be so proud of her and want to hug her, but I will stay strong and appear angry as a responsible parent should 🙂
Now, here are some facts about their first lie from Kang Lee (watch the TED Talk above ^):
- Most children begin to tell their first lie(s) around age 3.
- All children tell lies. This does not mean they will continue to deceive at every opportunity.
- Children also tell some lies just to be polite (white lies like adults perform daily).
- But, the main reason your child lies is out of protection.
- Around the world, children seem to start telling lies at the same age.
- After telling their first lie, they soon begin to understand the moral and ethical implications of their first lies.
- Kang Lee’s research shows that it is just as difficult for adults to tell if a child is lying then it is for them to tell if each other are lying.
- After reading the story of George Washington and the cherry tree, children have a better understanding of the harmful effects of lies and seem to perform them less often.