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Do you think that you are the smartest parent and your child cannot lie to you? Well, think again. Your child may be smarter than you!
Leaving her seven-year-old son Aditya to play in the drawing-room, Sarika went to the kitchen to prepare some snacks for him. While in the kitchen she heard a loud crash. Leaving everything, she rushed back to find little Aditya standing with his cricket bat in his hands and staring at the shattered glass top of the center table.
Overcome by desperation and anger, Sarika picked up Aditya and asked him, "Why did you break the table?" Without even batting an eyelid, Aditya replied, "I didn't break it, mama." No matter how much Sarika tried to make Aditya own up to his mischief, he stuck to his version. The thought of her son lying to her hurt her more than the sight of the damaged center table.
Discovering that their child has lied to them comes as a rude shock and an unpleasant surprise to parents. They start feeling guilty for not teaching their child good moral values and giving him a good upbringing.
However, if parents know the psychology behind the lies their child tells, they may not feel so heartbroken.
Talwar and Crossman conducted a study titled, 'From little white lies to filthy liars: the evolution of honesty and deception in young children.' Their research was published in the journal Advances in Child Development and Behavior in 2011. According to the study, "Children lie to preserve self-interests as well as for the benefit of others. With age, children learn about the social norms that promote honesty while encouraging occasional prosocial lie-telling."
But, between your child beginning to lie and getting over the habit, he may resort to telling you either all or most of these 13 lies. Being aware will help you handle his behavior better.
Lies young children tell:
1. I didn't do it: This is the most common lie kids and adults as well say whenever they make a mistake and don't want to own up the responsibility.
2. I am sick, I won't go to school today: While children are usually eager to go to school, sometimes they come up with this excuse to try and get a day off.
3. I ate up all that you sent me for lunch: To make their moms feel happy and to prevent them from resorting to force-feeding, most kids tell this lie.
4. I am thirsty, I need to have a glass of water: While you have excused yourself from a fun-filled outing to help your child with his homework, you make a startling discovery - your child is perpetually thirsty. This 'being thirsty' proves to be a distraction and an excuse for your child to avoid doing his homework.
5. I am too tired, I need to go to sleep: On the days when you sit with your child to assess her progress in studies, you find that it was the most tiresome day for her and she just can't stay awake another minute.
6. The notebook is with my friend: When most of the answers your child has written on the test paper are wrong and you want to compare them with the ones in his notebook, you find what a good Samaritan your child is! He lent his notebook to his friend who was absent the previous day, to help him complete the notes.
7. I won't do that again: this is what your child would say once your little one understands that she can' get away with just a 'sorry', but also needs to make you believe her good intentions in the future.
Kids will lie, for two reasons—at the cognitive level they are testing their thinking skills, and at the emotional level they are going into survival or escape mode because of the mixed feelings of fear and guilt. The difficulty arises when your emotions are running high and you use threats to get the truth out.
It would be helpful to avoid attacking the child's self-image. Try using a firm yet caring approach such as, "I know you are afraid right now about what happened. And yes, I am upset about it. So let's take a few minutes to calm ourselves down. Then we can talk about it." The idea is to get your child to feel safe to tell you the truth. And your child will feel safe only when she sees you regulate your anger and calm yourself. It helps her calm down too. In this way, your child learns to admit the truth. Otherwise, she just learns to get smarter at not being caught! - Arundhati Swamy, Family Counselor.
Lies teens tell
As your child steps into the teen years, the sophistication of his lies also indicates his growing cognitive abilities. Some lies that teens often resort to are:
8. I am going for group study to my friend's house: On quite a few occasions, children get together for group studies at a friend's home when her parents are away, providing the perfect opportunity for a party.
9. I was just browsing for some study materials: No sooner do you step into the room, your teen immediately forgets that he was busy on social media chatting away merrily with his friends. All the tabs of the browser are closed in less than a second and the computer is shut down.
10. I am telling you the truth: This sentence is voiced with the utmost sincerity when you suspect that your teen is lying and she knows that she is walking on thin ice.
11. I am studying: Just before the exams are about to begin, almost all parents, before going out to attend any event, tell their teen to study. And, when they call to check, this is the oft-repeated lie by almost every teen.
12. I have an extra class and will be late: When a theatre in town is screening a movie featuring your child's favorite film star, you may get to hear from him that he has some special classes to attend in college or school.
13. But I never got your call: Your teen is late in coming home and you ring her to find out what has happened. No answer. You ring again, but there's no response. Finally, as she walks in you ask her why she didn't pick up your call. At such times, she would utter this lie with such conviction that you may wonder if you really did make that call.
Lying among teens is common, especially when they are seeking more freedom to break boundaries set by parents, or to get out of trouble and avoid unpleasant consequences. Lying breaks a parent's trust in their teen and it can take a very long time to rebuild. Be alert and deal with the lies before they become a hard-to-break habit. This is the time to explain to teens the difficulties a series of lies can put them through - the guilt of hurting parents, awareness that they are also hurting themselves, the pressure of maintaining the lie, consequences for the offense committed, and the challenge of rebuilding the trust. Parents can choose to react mildly to playful lies but do not avoid the ones that could have long-term negative consequences for the child," says Arundhati Swamy.
So, parents, more than outwitting your child with 'smartness' when dealing with lies, you can make a smart choice and help your child make a smart choice too.