reasons why children lie
7:18:39 2023-03-19 263

Lying is developmentally normal although it is also a problematic behavior. Telling Lies is a major developmental milestone associated with the theory of mind. In the theory of mind, people understand that different people have different mental states that can differ from reality.  Children can only understand lying and tell convincing lies if they are aware of their own and others’ mental statuses as well.

Children lie for different reasons. Here are the seven most common reasons and the kinds of lies children tell​​:

1. THEY LIE TO COVER-UP

Cover-up lies are told to avoid getting punished. Deliberate lying behavior in children is, in part, influenced by how they perceive the negative consequences of disclosing the truth versus the positive consequences of telling the truth. The likelihood of lying about misbehavior is greater for kids who expect harsh punishment such as spanking​​.

2. THEY LIE TO EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITIES

Exploratory lies are told when kids try to find out what’s on the other side of the truth. Children may tell these lies out of curiosity or for fun.

3. THEY LIE TO BRAG

Big lies are told to brag or exaggerate one’s achievement to attain a higher status or save one’s self-esteem. For example, kids may falsely claim to have won an award when in fact they didn’t.

4. THEY LIE TO GET ATTENTION

Blatant lies are attention-seeking lying. When children tell blatant lies, they know that they will be noticed since others know the truth.

5. THEY CONFUSE IMAGINATION WITH REALITY

An intentional lie is when a child makes a false statement on purpose with the intent to create false beliefs in others. However, sometimes kids mistake fantasies for real life and unknowingly lie about them. So when young kids lie about something, it is important to distinguish whether they are confused about fantasies or trying to keep secrets. Fantasy lies contain elements from a make-believe world. Usually, these elements are to take the blame or serve what the child wishes to happen.

6. THEY LIE TO BE POLITE

From very early on, children are taught not to lie. But in certain social situations, they are also taught, implicitly or explicitly, that they shouldn’t tell the blunt truth. White lies are common in such situations where politeness is expected.

For instance, when children receive unwanted gifts, they tell lies to adults by pretending to like them​​. Children as young as 3 are also able to tell white lies to avoid hurting others’ feelings. As an example, if a child believes that admitting wrongdoing will leave their parents disappointed in them, they may lie to conceal the truth​​.

7. THEY LIE TO PROTECT OTHERS

Altruistic lies are told to protect others, usually peers or parents. They may or may not be explicitly asked, but feel that they should do so to help.

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