Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

The Wall Street Journal published an article dealing with why children lie and lends some insight on how to deal with your child’s dishonesty.

The article touches on what we have probably known growing up as kids ourselves – that parents are terrible at detecting when their children lie.

Parents are remarkably bad at detecting their children’s lies. In experimental studies of preschoolers, parents were able to detect accurately when their children were lying only 53% of the time?a little better than chance, according to a 2010 study led by Dr. Talwar. That falls to 33% by the time their kids are 6 to 8 years old. And parents of 9- to 11-year-olds have only about a 1 in 4 chance of knowing when their kids are lying.

As parents, we do naively hold the hope that our child is really a truthful, honest person in the making and that ironically, we consciously choose not to believe that our child is telling a lie when they actually are.

Worse still, we may be propagating our child’s habit of lying by being liars ourselves.

“Parents who lie for convenience’s sake, by calling in “sick” at work to attend a sporting event, for example, suggest truthfulness doesn’t matter. Or they might give mixed signals, such as, “Get A’s at all costs,” but “Don’t cheat,” fostering the kind of stress that can lead to cheating.”

And while parents may deem themselves mature enough to differentiate between harmless fibbing and outright lying that may harbour dire consequences, we need to keep in mind that our children might not have developed such advanced differential thinking; thus, even the “white lies” we tell in front of our children – whether consciously or not – hold consequences to our child’s development that we may not be immediately aware of.

In keeping your child on the straight path, the most effective way would be to set yourself as the example for your child. If you commit to be the man you want your child to be, you’ll find it not only benefits your child’s development, but your own too; it’s what makes fatherhood so magical. [The Wall Street Journal]

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