Opinion | Is Our Child Lying to Us? That May Be Good
Most people would say that parents should be worried if their children lie to them. That is so because we believe that being honest is a good thing and we want to raise our children by making them believe that lying is not good.
Most people have probably heard of “Pinocchio” as well as “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” and they preset how dangerous it is to lie. Kids who tend to lie are considered abnormal in their development with the possibility for troublesome life.
There was one experiment in which kids were asked not to look at one toy that was hidden behind them, and the researcher got out of the room. (3)
After several minutes, the researcher got back to the room and asked the kid whether they have looked at the toy. The psychologist Lewis designed this experiment in the mid-80s, and hundreds of children were tested.
According to the outcomes, many kids would look at the toy in just several seconds after being left alone, and a big number of them would lie about that.
About one-third of the children at the age of 2, half of the children at the age of 3, and 80% or even more of the kids of 4 would not admit their misbehavior. Also, kids are pretty good liars.
Interestingly, in many additional studies of the same experiment, many adults: teachers, social workers, judges, and officers were shown a tape of kids who were lying or who were telling the truth about their misbehavior.
So, neither the parents nor the adults were capable of noticing which of the children told a lie. A short answer to why some children lie is that they are more intelligent than children that do not lie.
As Professor Lewis revealed, kids who lied about looking at the toy showed to have higher verbal I.Q. then kids who did not, and this was for about 10 points. In fact, those kids who did not look at the photo at all, are the most intelligent, but they are rare.
It is believed that kids who lie are better at staying focused on a certain task and capable of seeing things through others’ eyes.
Kids who have ADHD which is characterized by the inability to stay focused are bad at lying. Also, it is thought that kids who lie are better at socializing and adjusting.
Furthermore, Kang Lee is a psychologist who has been studying the deception in kids who prefers to inform parents that they should be happy if they notice that their 2/3-year-old kid is lying.
And, this psychologist has found out that parents can make their kids liars with some games as well as exercises with playing different roles in just a few weeks. So, the conclusion is that lying is good for the brain.
Parents would like their kids to be intelligent enough to deceive but refrain from doing it because of high morality. Sometimes, the safety of a kid depends on how honest they are, in cases of abuse or maltreatment. So, can we make our kids be honest?
Studies say that spanking as a punishment is not really helpful when it comes to lying. Victoria Talwar, a developmental psychologist, and Professor Lee compared behaviors of preschoolers in two schools in West Africa. (4)
In one school, there were used highly disciplinary measures, and the other school used verbal reprimands and meetings with the principal. The outcomes showed that children who got harsher punishments lied more and were even better.
And, motivating kids, to be honest by not using punishments makes kids be more honest. It is said that kids at 16 do not lie about their misbehavior and misbehaviors of others after being asked to be honest.
Also, Angela Evans has revealed that kids who promise not to look at a toy while being left alone, tend to keep their promise. Interestingly, this works with the kids who do not know what “promise” means.
Till the kids come to the end of infancy, they tend to understand the meaning of a verbal promise. According to Professor Lee and other researchers, reading kids’ stories that show how bad is to deceive is not really helpful.
On the other hand, the tale of the cherry tree and George Washington in which approval is used to reach honesty lowers the chances of lying. So, Professor Lee and his colleagues say that talking about the good sides of honesty fosters honest behavior.
Also, kids can be paid to in order, to be honest. In one study that involved kids at the age of 5 and 6, Professor Lee and his colleagues included 2 dollars for lying and telling the truth was from 0 to 8 dollars.
The question of the study was what the price of the truth was. When there was no money for being honest, 4 of 5 kids told lies. But, when the payout was 2 dollars, kids became more honest.
And, when there were 3 dollars for honesty and 2 dollars for lying, kids tended to be more honest. So, we can conclude that telling the truth can be purchased.
Professor Lee reported that kids are very tactical when it comes to lying, and they are thinking regarding ratio.
Bear in mind that intelligence is not the crucial factor that affects the decision to lie or be honest. This research shows that the combination of high intelligence with other personality traits raises the possibility of lying.