Would it make you feel better to know that your child who tells lies is smarter than the child who always tells the truth? It’s OK if you had to think about that for a second, I did too.
But as this recent New York Times article titled “Is your child lying? That’s good!” argues that when it comes to our children’s development there are actually some very solid positives when it comes to telling lies.
Children who lie have higher IQs
It all starts with development psychologist Michael Lewis who conducted a series of experiments with toddlers back in the 1980’s. Professor Lewis found that the “young children who disobeyed an instruction and then denied having disobeyed were discovered to have higher IQs than those who admitted disobedience.”
Professor Lewis discovered most children learn how to lie around the age of two, and that given the chance, most of them will give it a shot. In fact, as the NYT reports: “a third of 2-year-olds, half of 3-year-olds and 80 percent or more of children 4 and older will deny their transgression, regardless of their gender, race or family’s religion."
Lying is ‘good’ for your brain
High IQ is not the only ‘benefit’ of lying. As the NYT piece reports “several other” researchers have found children who tell lies have better “executive functioning skills” (the things that help us control impulses and focus on tasks), “theory of mind” (that ability to see the world through other people’s eyes) and are even more socially adjusted than their honest compatriots.
Confusing isn’t it? As the NYT piece argues this information presents an alarming “paradox” for parents. Of course we want our children to be intelligent, but we also need to be able to tell when they’re telling the truth.
How do you discipline a child that tells lies?
Avoid harsh punishment like smacking and being sent to your room, advises psychologist Professor Kang Lee. Her research conducted in an West African pre-school found “non punitive appeals for truth” – for example, “ If you tell the truth I will be really pleased with you” promoted the most honest behaviour.
Exacting a verbal promise – that is, getting your child to swear they - “won’t lie to you anymore, mum and dad” also seems to work.
According to the NYT article, “multiple studies” found pledging to tell the truth has remedied the behaviour in children as early as the age of three, when it’s inferred they don’t understand what a “promise” actually means.
Fascinating, isn’t it?
8 tips to discipline kids without yelling
No parent likes to admit they're a yeller.
Chinese New Year: Welcome to the Year of the Rat!
What to expect from babies born in the Year of the Rat.
Ewww! 6 weird (and kinda gross) ways kids show us their love
Kids show their love in the weirdest of ways!
Is your child "tired and wired"? This might be why
The little-known way getting up after bedtime can sabotage your kids’ sleep.
Children of the Millennials - here's what we know about Generation 'Alpha'
Children born between 2010 and 2025 will be known as Generation Alpha.
7 ways to ease your child's school drop-off anxiety
Tips for parents to help their kids through separation anxiety at school drop-off time.
What kids really need when starting big school
Starting school is a big step - here's how you can support your child through the transition to 'big school'.
Dear new mama: Here's what I wish I knew when I was you
Every new mum needs to hear this.