Have you been the embarrassed Mother in public with a child that you know is lying? There are a whole lot of studies looking at why kids lie. The reasons are both very simple and complex in a human growth terms. However parents should sigh with relief, mostly as its completely natural. It is normal and aged stage based. Phew!
As toddlers aged between 2 and 4 children are trying out their verbal skills and as often as not are not able to distinguish between truth and fantasy. This is a stage where it would be very easy to take them to task, but frankly it would not mean much to them. However, this is also an age where it would be extremely easy to squash and inhibit their imagination, so although telling outright lies should not be encouraged, a little understanding will go long way.
As children progress through to school and beyond, the lies may become more complex. This is a stage at which children can be taught the difference between the truth and a lie or indeed a right and wrong decision. As with all parenting this is generally much better demonstrated through leading by example, something that at times many of us struggle with. Minefield isn’t it!
However as your child grows it can often be very disturbing, not to say hurtful to begin to see mistruths becoming a more entrenched part of your child’s character.
If your child has somehow missed out on this fundamental lesson in life it can be due to many different reasons. Firstly and most hard to accept is the environmental resonance in which the child was raised. This does not mean that truth was in short supply deliberately but perhaps it has been expedient in the adults or carers behaviour during the most impactful part of the child’s life. Dear God, we are to blame for everything right?
This however can be a cover behaviour of something a little deeper within the child. For example, children with low self esteem will often fantasise and project out of a form of social survival and then the habit becomes expedient in the rest of their lives and then potentially a part of the fabric of their being. Along with self esteem, insecurity about themselves or family can make this more prevalent.
Lastly some children have potentially picked up the psychological message that it is better to tell people what they think they want to hear, perhaps because of perceived or real antagonism to the truth during early childhood.
The good news is though that most kids will outgrow telling lies. And let’s be honest here, most adults do lie as sometimes they feel life dictates it.
So perhaps our constant working on a strong bond of trust and always giving to your child is the best way of teaching them the way to be. The rest I’m afraid is up to them!
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