• Here's Why You Should Be Happy That Your Toddler Has Learned to Lie

    It's a developmental milestone, recent study says.

  • Photo from Pixabay

    Aside from being happy when your kids talk back, there might be reason to rejoice when your tot starts lying too. Recent research found that lying is a cognitive milestone for kids. It's perfectly normal for kids to lie once they reach a certain age, the study asserts.

    The research, published in the journal Psychological Science, showed that lying begins early in precious kids, according to The Wall Street Journal. 30% of 2-year-olds have already tried to lie and 50% of 3-year-olds regularly fib. As children get older, even more of them start to lie: 80% of 4-year-olds and nearly all 5- to 7-year-olds do it. 

    Here’s a little background info on why you should be at least a tiny bit happy that your child is now lying to you. Lead researcher Kang Lee, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto in the U.S. said that it takes two things for children to lie. First, is an understanding that people don’t know everything. 

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    “Children need to understand what’s in someone else’s mind—to know what they know and what they don’t know. We call this ability theory of mind. The children who are better at theory of mind are also better at lying,” Lee told WSJ. 

    Secondly, children who lie have to have the power to plan ahead and curb unwanted actions. “The 30% of the under-3s who can lie have higher executive function abilities, specifically the ability to inhibit the urge to tell the truth and to switch to lying,” Lee explained. 

    What’s more, Lee called lying a “cognitive sophistication” and children who lie at an early age will be more successful in school and in their dealings with the other kids at the playground.

    The study involved testing out if having the theory of mind ability can lead kids to lying. Researchers, a mix of American, Canadians and Chinese psychologists, took a group of 58 preschoolers from China and divided them into two groups. Half were given six sessions of theory-of-mind training and the other received six sessions on spatial and problem-solving skill development. 

    They found that the preschoolers who were given theory-of-mind training had become better liars compared to the control group, the ones given spatial and problem-solving sessions. 

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    So the first time you catch your child lying, don’t be so quick to reprimand him. Take a moment to appreciate how much his little brain has grown. Then, use this opportunity to teach him the value of honesty and the serious repercussions of lying.

    Another thing you could try is guiding your child through the step-by-step process that eventually lead them to lying, advised Lisa J. Redoble, assistant professor of the Department of Family Life and Child Development at the College of Home Economics, University of the Philippines in Diliman. “Lying is part of the decision making of the child. He will think: ‘Ano ang mas maganda: Magsinungaling ba ako o sabihin ko ang totoo?’ At a young age, show them how to process, how to think and how to decide.”


    Sources:
    Jan. 13, 2016. "Children's Lies Are a Sign of Cognitive Process". wsj.com
    Undated. "Lying Is a SIgn of Healthy Development in Kids (Yes, Really!)". parents.com

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