As much as parents would like to believe that their children are blameless little angels who are not capable of doing anything malicious or wrong, you can’t deny the fact that everyone lies, especially little kids. Children are actually capable of lying from a very early age, around the 3 year mark (1). However, the reason behind why a child would choose to lie whether willingly or subconsciously (yes that can happen) is varied. But the fact remains that lying is a very common practice. Now we all know that lying is wrong and something that we must teach our children to avoid doing so at all costs. One thing that might help us in this endeavor is understanding why children feel the need to lie in the first place. In this article, we will explore a few scenarios in which children lie, why and how you can ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Read on to know more!
1. Children Lie To Test Out New Behavior And See What Happens
That’s right, sometimes kids lie just to see what happens when they exhibit new behavior and mannerisms. This is especially true if lying is a novel occurrence in your child. Chances are this is just something they have discovered recently and are trying it out to see what happens. They just want to observe how you would react, what you would do and if you deem this as acceptable or unacceptable behavior. When kids are little they lie because they want to protect themselves in situations where they feel as if the adult may get angry or sad. They don’t want you to use an angry tone while asking them questions. But as they get older they may also lie simply because their imagination is vivid and can get the better of them. But children often don’t understand what it means to lie or how to do it intentionally until they are in elementary school.
2. Children Tell White Lies
Sometimes kids lie for your benefit or because they are unintentionally encouraged to lie. Have you ever gone to a party and asked your kid to drink orange juice and tell the host they like it even when they hate it? Have you ever asked them to act excited when their grandparents give them a sweater they will never wear yet again for Christmas? This is when kids start mastering the concept of the white lie which is a lie that is told as a way to spare someone’s feelings. We use and witness people giving others white lies all the time. For example we give an insincere compliment to someone we care about, or when we lie out of politeness when the truth is too harsh. The same situation applies for children. And although this may not be a bad thing most of the time, it is also important to teach your children to stay true to themselves on not compromise on their own beliefs and preferences just in order
3. Children Lie Out Of Impulse
Sometimes, there’s no intent behind a child’s lie. It may be that a kid tells a lie simply because they tend to speak before they think, which can turn lying into an impulsive behavior. This is especially true in cases where children have ADHD , as they lack the neurotransmitters needed to fully control impulsivity (2). So it is the lack of control that is the real reason behind the reason that children lie even when they don’t mean to.
4. They Want To Make Themselves Look Cooler
Something all that really lies underneath your child’s extensive lies is the need to impress their peers. Maybe they lied to their friends and told them that they have a baby brother on the way just to be able to relate to them better or maybe they lied about what their favorite cartoon is, whatever the cases may be, they are just doing it in order to be liked. They may also do this by exaggerating the truth or fabricating a story in order to gain their approval or to paint them in a positive light.
A reason why they would want to impress their peers is that it allows them to be perceived as cool, which in turn helps them fit in. This may be particularly true for children who have self-esteem issues and lack the confidence to attempt to fit in with their social circles. But you must keep in mind that children often put a lot of pressure on themselves in order to be accepted by peers they look up to so some amount of lying is expected. Teach your children to be self confident so that they don’t seek external validation. This way they will remain authentic and will not be tempted to lie for this reason.
Everybody lies and kids are no exception but that doesn’t mean that you should let it slide by. Now that you know why your child may be lying, you can make sure that they don’t repeat this behavior for the same reasons. Happy parenting!