Lies: I Really Want to Believe You, But….

Dear Mr. Dad, I have a real problem with my ten-year-old daughter: Just about everything she says is a lie. If she tells me she’s texting a girl friend from school, it’s probably a boy. If I ask whether she’s cleaned her room, she’ll look me straight in the eye and tell me Yes, even though I know (and she knows I know) that she didn’t lift a finger. If I were to ask her if grass is green, she’d probably tell me it isn’t. Why is she doing this and how can we get her to stop?

A: Telling lies is a part of human nature, and it starts very early in life. A study on lying done at Toronto University in Canada found that about 20% of two-year-olds lie, but by age four, 90% were doing it. And the lying doesn’t stop when we grow up. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that 60% of adults can’t make it through a simple 10-minute conversation without telling at least one lie (in fact, people in the study told an average of three lies in that 10-minute period).

Lying is a learned behavior. When we’re very young, we look at the adults in our lives as all-powerful and all-knowing. Trying out a lie—and getting away with it—shows us that people can’t read our minds. As we get older, we discover that lying can sometimes get us out of trouble and may even help us avoid getting punished. The more successful the lies, the more often they’ll be told.

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Lies, Damned Lies, and the Stuff We Tell Our Kids

Okay, is there anyone out there who can honestly say he or she hasn’t lied to a child? We all do it and we know that everyone else does, but there’s something about reading a study that makes things sound a lot worse.

Turns out that 90 percent of parents have a whole arsenal of completely BS stories we tell our kids, according to Warbutrons, a major UK bakery firm. And this goes way beyond the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. Here are some of the best lies (if you aren’t already using these, feel free to claim that you made them up):

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It’s Okay to Hit and other Rules + From Chaos to Calm + Preschool Entertainment Boom

www.amazon.co.ukGuest 1: Heather Shumaker, author of It’s OK NOT to Share…
Topic: Renegade rules for raising competent and compassionate kids.
Issues: Completely counter-intuitive but scientifically sound suggestions such as, let kids hit and kick; let her hog that toy all day; bombs, guns, and bad guys allowed; love your kids lies, be buddies with dead birds, and more.


www.amazon.co.ukGuest 2: Beth Grosshans, author of Beyond Time Out.
Topic: Moving from chaos to calm.
Issues: Why our emphasis on talking and self-esteem is responsible for parental ineffectiveness and children’s unruliness; looking at the imbalance of power in families (where kids have too much and the parents not enough); the parenting styles that most commonly lead to that imbalance of power.


www.amazon.co.ukGuest 3: Dade Hayes, author of Anytime Playdate.
Topic: Inside the preschool entertainment boom.
Issues: The inner workings of the $21 billion business of entertaining babies and toddlers; How the success of Dora the Explorer prompted the development of other multi-lingual shows; the positive effects of media moderate media exposure (as long as it’s supplemented by good parenting).

Lying, Cheating, and Stealing

In recent weeks, my six-year-old has suddenly become completely untrustworthy, lying, cheating, and stealing whenever she gets a chance. Yesterday we came home from the grocery store and I found that she had stolen some candy! I’m getting worried, not to mention the fact that I’m feeling like a bad parent. What can I do to nip this in the bud?

The first thing to do is relax. Child development experts agree that before age three, kids have no clear understanding that these behaviors are wrong. Between three and six, children develop an understanding that lying, cheating, and stealing are wrong and they begin some innocent exploration of limits, lying about little things, like whether they’ve washed their hands or gone to the bathroom.
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The Truth about Lying

Dear Mr. Dad: Our 9-year-old son is a habitual liar. He fibs even about the smallest, most insignificant things. But whenever we challenge him, he stands his ground and tries to convince us he’s telling the truth. What can we do?

A: Before we get to the what-you-can-do part, we need to find out what’s going on and why. Children lie for a number of different reasons, primarily to impress others, boost their self-esteem, feel less insecure, or avoid punishment. (Hmmm. The same reasons many adults lie, too.)

For example, your son might be bragging to his friends about all the latest games he has in his room—even though you can’t afford any of them. He may figure that if he told the truth, nobody would be interested in him. If he’s feeling especially insecure, he might spin some incredible yarns about his talents or abilities to help him feel better about himself.
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