Why Do Kids Lie?


Here is a typical situation in our household: I hear a little pair of feet running off toward the bathroom in a hurry and then there is silence. Approximately two minutes later the little feet run off again. I then yell: “have you flushed the toilet and washed your hands?” and the answer is inevitably yes. I then point out that I am going to check the toilet and the hands. There is a moment of silence and the little feet run back; I hear the toilet flush and the water of the wash basin run.

A similar thing happens with brushing teeth, where a cheeky little girl once told me that she had indeed brushed her teeth, but the reason her toothbrush was stone dry was because she had carefully dried it with the hairdryer. The same cheeky girl once blamed a pot of mayonnaise for having dumped a whole sack of toys on the floor.

Now this can either make me giggle or drive me to desperation (often depending on how tired I am),  but apparently it is totally normal and is actually an important step in a child’s development. It normally starts at the age of two when a child suddenly realises that her way of thinking is different from others around them and limits are tested. It’s also an age where the lines between fact and fantasy are still very blurred. When they get older the lines become clearer, but the moral priorities are still blurred. The importance to please parents is very important, sometimes more so than actually telling the truth. I thought this article and this article were really interesting.

What I need to remember is not to lose my cool when it happens, as it is definitely more counteractive than anything else! Also a recent study has shown how punishing lying in children actually pushes them towards bending the truth more.

I have to say, after researching this, that my admiration for school teachers has grown even more. Can you imagine the tales teachers must have heard in their life?

– Emilie

The photo above is of my girls which I took the other day. They look like butter couldn’t melt in their mouth. Rest assured, it can!




Comments (5)

March 5, 2015

LOL, drying toothbrush with hair dryer. You’ve got to give credit for creativity. When faced with little lies like this we just talk about the importance of being truthful. We take the approach of how hurtful it feels when you are telling the truth and people don’t believe you. If you lie too much people will stop believing you.

March 5, 2015

The lie about the toothbrush is too funny and sweet. When I was nine I hated so much taking showers that I actually faked it whenever I could! I used to turn the water on, change into my pajamas and sit in the floor while reading for 5 minutes or so. I was really good at it and managed to take real showers just twice a week for a while (the “hair days” were impossible to fake) till my mom told me that it was really strange that I didn’t smell like soap every time I “took a shower”. I felt so embarrassed that I stopped it!

March 6, 2015

Lol my little sister did the same thing when she young! She was eventually caught, as after a while she switched to just running her hair under water in the bathroom sink.

March 6, 2015

Lol, this is just too funny. Well, not exactly. I can speak for myself that while trying to get both girls ready AND get myself ready to leave in the morning is such a challenge. To avoid confrontation (them lying, me getting mad etc), I started micro managing their getting ready process in the morning. But lately I realized that that wasn’t working either. I dress my 2-year-old obviously but just trust my 3.5-year-old and just casually peek when she is getting ready. As you rightly said, I just have to constantly remind myself to not lose my cool and sometimes tell myself to let go a little.

Esther in Amsterdam
March 9, 2015

The hairdryer lie is too clever!!! Thanks for the insight. xxx

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