Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Children and Lying

What child hasn't helped himself to the cookie jar and denied doing it? Parents usually feel upset when they notice their child lying. But before we brand a child “a liar,” we need to consider the child’s developmental stage and the motives behind the lying.

Preschool children don’t understand the concepts “lying” and “telling the truth.” They also may “exaggerate” because they have trouble separating wish from reality. A child may say, “I am the smartest kid ever.” Adults need to understand what the statement means to the child - that she is confident in her abilities and values intelligence. This doesn’t mean she’s a liar.

Around the age of four, children can start to tell the difference between lies and truth and between wrong and right. This doesn’t mean they won’t tell an untruth, though!

Children lie for the same reasons adults do; to avoid getting in trouble, to feel powerful, to take advantage of a situation, to keep a secret, or to help a friend. By ages five or six, a child can tell whether a listener believes a lie or not. Between seven and eight years of age, they understand that not only what they say, but their motives behind what is said can be judged. At ten to eleven years of age children can lie successfully.

What can parents do? Leading by example is key. Children need to depend on adults to tell the truth. A recent survey, however, found adults admitted to lying more than ten time a week.

Also, when you find your child is lying don’t be quick to anger. Take time to calm down before dealing with the lie. Find out the message of and the motive behind the lie. Explain the consequences of lying and use consequences to help your child develop his or her conscience. Have you ever told your child a lie? What was it and for what reason?

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