why kids lie

interesting and important article (and research) about how kids learn to lie. i encourage you to read the whole (long) thing, but here are a few paragraphs from the first couple pages:

Kids lie early, often, and for all sorts of reasons—to avoid punishment, to bond with friends, to gain a sense of control. But now there’s a singular theory for one way this habit develops: They are just copying their parents.

…By the end of the interview, the kids saw for the first time how much they were lying and how many of the family’s rules they had broken. Darling says 98 percent of the teens reported lying to their parents.

By the time a child reaches school age, the reasons for lying become more complex. Avoiding punishment is still a primary catalyst for lying, but lying also becomes a way to increase a child’s power and sense of control—by manipulating friends with teasing, by bragging to assert status, and by learning he can fool his parents.

Encouraged to tell so many white lies and hearing so many others, children get comfortable with being disingenuous. Insincerity becomes a daily occurrence.

The most disturbing reason children lie is that parents teach them to. According to Talwar, they learn it from us. “We don’t explicitly tell them to lie, but they see us do it. They see us tell the telemarketer, ‘I’m just a guest here.’ They see us boast and lie to smooth social relationships.”

(ht to ypulse)

5 thoughts on “why kids lie”

  1. It is significant that a lack of integrity produces a learned “dis-integrated” faith. It is no wonder to me that our “beliefs” and our lived out faith are often so polarized.

  2. I’ve often worried that a lot of our ministries are teaching kids to lie, too. Not outwardly or purposefully, but a lot of teens feel like they have to say what adults expect them to and what they think youth pastors want to hear is that everything is great and fine and they’re doing the right things. We all have “breakthrough” kids that we know well enough to have open dialogue with, but not all of them. We need to keep looking for ways to foster an open environment that is truly that. I love Chap Clark’s work on this line of thinkng …

  3. I am a “seasoned” grandpa now but when raising the kids my wife and I tried very hard to be as honest with, in front of, our girls. We tried to tell the facts in a way that they could understand it in a matter-of-fact way. If the kid pointed out an adult who had been dishonest, we asked for proof then agreed that, indeed, the adult was wrong but still required the kids to show respect.
    We were careful to only make a rule if we were willing to obey it ourselves and it was worth the struggle to enforce it upon the kids, (Not an easy standard) We were not, are not, perfect parents and neither were, are, our now grown children but we did want we could and they turned out just fine. God is good.

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