We got into a discussion about Lance Armstrong Monday during the Sean & Richie Show, and of course the topic of lying came up.  Richie is concerned that the kids today don’t have anyone to look up to, because everyone is lying and cheating – so how can we teach our kids not to lie when it’s so common in the world?  And do all kids lie?  How do we teach our kids to be honest – or do we actually want them to learn how to be good liars?

Kids and Lying

Just because your kid tells a few lies or stretches the truth doesn’t mean they’re headed to jail.  Younger kids, under the age of 6 or so, have trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality and may not even know that what they’re saying is “lying”.  In order to be a lie, you have to first know the difference between make believe and reality.

Kids test the boundaries with everything and if they never did anything “wrong” how would they learn what is acceptable behavior?  Preschool kids are just discovering they have ideas and thoughts of their own, according to a professor of developmental psychology at McGill University in Montreal.  These kids are just testing out this new ability.

As kids get older and begin learning right from wrong, most still lie from time to time although it decreases as they learn the consequences of lying and what happens when they’re caught.  That is, if the parent gives consequences when their child is caught lying.

How to Teach Your Kids Not to Lie

The University of Massachusetts conducted a study of adults, and it was discovered that 60% of the adults told several inaccuracies or even blatant lies during a 10 minute conversation.  If you want your kids to tell the truth – you should model the behavior you expect of them.  If your kids see you lying or stretching the truth to your neighbors or friends or calling in sick to work when you’re not sick – they’re learning from watching you.

Start at an early age with your kids and tell them why telling the truth is important in ways they can relate to.  So if the baby is covered in finger paint and the five-year-old has the evidence on his hands but says he didn’t do it – ask him how he would feel if you said you were going out for pizza but then you went to the doctor instead?

Always reward honesty.  Most of us read the story about the kid who cried wolf to our kids, but studies have shown that has no measurable effect on whether kids lie or not; but there is evidence that kids lie less after hearing stories where the main character fesses up for something he or she did and doesn’t get in trouble because they told the truth.

Maybe it’s Good for Kids to Lie?

I’m just going to say it – lying may not always be such a terrible thing.  Good liars often become politicians, right?  They’re generally high paid positions.  Studies have shown that kids who make up stories and tell lies have the ability to think on their feet and literally have faster-developing brains which may lead to successful lives.

Maybe all lying isn’t so bad.  Have you ever stretched the truth to get a job?  Called in sick to work when you weren’t really sick?

Maybe we all lie?

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