I’ve already familiarized you with Nurture Shock in this article. The authors, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman,
have reviewed research concerning various behaviors children exhibit to see whether our first instinct (or what society say is the best thing to do ) actually works. Why children lie is a great chapter. I won’t give away all its glory, but this chapter goes into research and studies where children and teenagers have been interviewed and do surveys on how often they lie to their parents. You’d be shocked. I would too if I hadn’t already blocked it out in denial.
Thoughts on lying and your child.
1) It’s actually a developmental milestone. While all of us want to think our children are perfect angels and will never commit a sin from the day of their birth until the day they die that is just not how it is. Lying is a developmental milestone because it shows that their mind has matured to the point where they understand that reality is not the only thing operating here. Their words can create a reality of their own, if you believe them. It shows their brain is working, functioning and growing. Now, that doesn’t mean lying is okay. It’s not okay at all ever (at least in my book). But, now you know that when your child kicks, screams, lies, or throws themselves on the floor, that these behaviors are in fact, perfectly normal.
2) It may be cute on a toddler, but it will not be cute when they’re a teenager. In case you missed my opinion on the phrase They’ll Grow Out of It , suffice it to say that if you don’t deal with lying early and deal with it sharply it will only get worse. A toddler will tell a lie or two to get out of trouble. If they figure out it works they’ll just hone their skills until they’re a master deceiver and you have no idea what is really going on. This is super dangerous territory because if you are not aware of what is happening it will be very hard for you to get the situation under control. You don’t want a teenager so skilled at lying they tell you they’ve eaten lunch at Burger King while they’re holding a Taco Bell bag and you start to believe them.
3) Consider the infraction and the lie two separate offenses. Nurture Shock says to consider the offense and the lie they tell to cover it up as two separate offences. Therefore, you discipline the offense and then the lie separately. Or the lie compounds the disciplinary measure of the offense. They color all over the wall while in time out because you were too stupid to remember to take the crayon from them (not that this ever happened, mind you), and then they lie about it. You are to discipline (in whatever way you see fit or you habitually use) the coloring on the wall and then you are to discipline the cover-up lies. And, be sure to be clear that they are being disciplined for both. It will teach them that lying about the offense doesn’t make it better, in fact it makes it exponentially worse.
The whole chapter is super interesting and every two minutes I interrupted my husband from his studies to read a paragraph. The examples given and studies shown were eye-opening. Interestingly enough, if you thought I was smoking crack before I wrote most of my articles, one of their revelations agreed with my whole parenting strategy, if you will. Teenagers who lied the least to their parents were ones whose parents were firm and consistent in their discipline and consequences. Interestingly enough, these parents were also the warmest to their children.
Just like I thought.