So my younger son (4) is talented at so many things – including lying. He’s convincing, does it with a straight face and no giveaways like facial ticks or raised voice etc. Which, is worrying. He clearly lies because he believes he’ll get in trouble (rightly so) but even when it’s about small things – where we know he did it and is lying to our face, but the actual thing isn’t really a big deal and we’re just trying to get him to confess – he sticks with the lie.
I read a great book a few years ago, called NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children. If you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend it!
NurtureShock is a groundbreaking collaboration between award-winning science journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. They argue that when it comes to children, we’ve mistaken good intentions for good ideas. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, they demonstrate that many of modern society’s strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring–because key twists in the science have been overlooked. Nothing like a parenting manual, the authors’ work is an insightful exploration of themes and issues that transcend children’s (and adults’) lives.
So one of the things they cover is lying. “If 98% of kids think lying is morally wrong, then why do 98% of kids lie?” They basically said that all kids lie – but if you call them on it and discuss it the frequency and scale goes down over time, but if you let them get away without calling them out on it – the frequency and scale increases.
We’ve been following that method – calling the kids out if/when they lie – and it’s worked well with our older son who for the most part never does it. But for our youngest, it doesn’t seem to be diminishing, or scary thought here – maybe it is diminishing with this approach and if didn’t call him out on them there would be even more lies…
When discussing lying with my 4 yr old, unsolicited, my older son 6 piped up that he thinks the younger learned it from Bart Simpson – and maybe he shouldn’t watch the Simpsons anymore… I don’t think the Simpsons are a bad influence on the kids, but it was an interesting theory.
So how do you deal with lies, and the lying little liars who tell them? Any advice to share?
*update* I took the conversation to Twitter and here’s one of the responses I got… So, it looks like I’m more responsible than Bart Simpson as a role model for my son’s bad behavior. Which I think is absolutely correct and clearly something I should work on myself. When you think about it – it’s often us who start the kids down the path of lying with social lies, like : Tell Grandma thank you for the present and that you love it, or Say the food was delicious….