Your son tells you he didn’t touch the dish, even though you watched him drop and break it. Or your daughter is caught with cookie-crumbled hands just leaving the cookie jar, yet insists she took no cookies.
A bit unsettling to parents? Yes. The end of innocence? Maybe. A predictor of future immoral conduct? Not at all. It’s just typical behavior.
Young children lie for a number of reasons:
- To make themselves look better in the eyes of others because they don’t feel good about themselves.
- To avoid facing the consequences of their wrongdoing.
- Faulty memory—when Kyle grabs a truck from Chris, he may already have forgotten that he grabbed it in the first place.
- Difficulty distinguishing between reality and fantasy.
You may be upset or even embarrassed to find your child is lying. And while lying should be discouraged, most children tend to lie at one time or another. When a child feels the need to lie, it can tell parents important information about the child. Try to understand the motivation behind a lie.
Children are less likely to lie if they feel their parents love them, even if their parents don’t always approve of their behavior. It’s important for parents to separate the deed from the doer and convey unconditional love.
Since a young child’s fibs are usually not malicious or calculated, they are probably not a cause for concern. Assuming a child lives in an atmosphere of honesty and trust, the fibbing stage will usually end. In the meantime, deal with untruths and nurture the development of honesty.