“My mother said I should not join the class”. It wasn’t the first time I was told that by a learner who did not want to attend an extramural class. “You won’t allow me to count to five”, my reply and the child disappears with the blink of an eye (I’m a Nigeria Teacher!).
Lies!!! Why do people tell lies? My concern – Why do children tell lies?- The reason for this.
When I talk of a lie here, I do not mean fictional tales. I mean correct outright lies!
Let’s take a quick look at the kind of lies ascribed to age groups:
- Toddlers (2-3 years); Kids at this age tell very simple lies. “Jason, did you poop?” and he replies “No” while moving away from you and seemingly concentrating on the toy in his hand.
They do not understand its wrong to tell a lie. As a parent, avoid creating such an environment for breeding the lie. You could better say, “Jason you pooped, can we go for a change please?”. See the situation as an opportunity to teach honesty.
- Ages 3- 5; The age of invisible friends. The child has become more verbal and is aware of what it means to tell a lie. “Who opened my drawer?” and they reply, “I don’t know”. At this age, they are aware of right and wrong acts. In answering questions with “I don’t know”, most times means they do not want to be punished. This reminds me of one of my daughters in this age bracket. This particular evening I got back from work and as usual, the kids line up to my room to “just” a bit. So she starts with, “Hmm Mummy, you know, after we got back from school, Uncle D, picks a quarrel with Aunty K, and Aunty K starts crying. She’s been sleeping since then”. I don’t get it because I had spoken with the said Aunty K few minutes before getting home. Next thing she screams “It’s a lie Mummy!”. First I’m amazed because this isn’t the first time and she had been warned about tales as that.
As a parent, and as tired as I was that evening, I sat with all four of them and explained how important telling the truth is. I told “her” I understood she was joking but that she had younger ones who listened as she spoke and didn’t understand it was wrong. You need to engage them in conversations that preach the importance of honesty. This should be done as soon as the lie is told.
- Ages 5-8; The children will tell lies to know what they can get away with. Common lies like, “But I showed you the Homework mummy” when she never did. While watching to see your reaction.
As parents, we need to not just model honesty, but also correct the child as soon as the lie is told.
- Ages 9-12; At this age, the children are trying to establish a trustworthy identity and show strong feelings of guilt after lying. As your child grows, he may try to pull a fast one at times.
As a parent, ensure to model honesty and express displeasure immediately.
Why do Kids Tell Lies?
Though children understand that telling lies is forbidden, they tell lies;
- For Self Protection
- Because they see people around do same.
- To gain a thing.
- To get attention even when they know you know the truth.
- To make their stories more exciting.
How to Encourage Honesty:
- Consider the child’s developmental stage.
- Observe your child, be able to tell when he/she is telling the truth and when lies have set in.
- Model Honesty.
- Make the child understand that there are natural consequences for telling lies. Try not to punish.
- Let the child understand that you depend on him for the truth and that you do not “know it all”.
- Separate the behaviour from the person.
- Praise the child for owning up to a lie.
- Help the child avoid situations that encourage telling lies.
- Find out the root cause of the lei and deal with it.
- Be calm and stay calm.
According to a recent study, carried out using appeals, to tell the truth, to make the researcher happy and that of telling the truth is the right thing to do. Saying that telling the truth would make the researcher happy reduced lying to around 50%, for both threatened and not threatened children. Saying that telling the truth was the right thing to do reduced lying to 40%, but only when the child was not going to be punished. 80% of children who were told they’d be punished if they performed the act given, but that telling the truth was the right thing to do, lied.
The research suggests that if you want a child to confess to a wrongdoing, you should reassure them that they won’t be in trouble for confessing and tell them that telling the truth would make you happy, (Lara Warmelink, 2014).