Kids Lie Every 90 Minutes -- And That's a Good Thing (VIDEO)

Kids are bad at lying, at least at first. In the magical fairy dust of the childhood mind, kids initially have a hard time distinguishing reality from fancy, which you can see in their eagerness to engage in imaginative play.

They also perceive their parents to be essentially omniscient, a belief that won't be completely destroyed until the 20-kiloton blast of puberty. The fuse gets lit early, though, around 36 months, when kids begin to realize that parents can't always read their minds. To their delight (or horror), children discover they can give their parents false information without its being detected. Or, at least, they think they can. The child's realization that you can't always read his or her mind coincides with the flowering of something we call Theory of Mind skills.

What is Theory of Mind? This video explains:

This timeline suggested to researchers that children have an age-dependent relationship with certain types of moral reasoning, too. There's evidence that kids are born with certain moral instincts, but it takes a while to coax them into their mature form.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure if Dr. Medina would agree with me, but as an early childhood specialist, I'd say that it's not necessary to focus on punishment for lying. In most cases, you can just address the reason for lying. Were they trying to avoid a responsibility? Well, it didn't work. The responsibility is still there, and perhaps it has grown in the meantime. Were they trying to get what wasn't theirs? Well, it didn't work. The item still isn't theirs, and now there are hurt feelings that they're going to have to mend. Were they lying to play a joke? Well, that's going to depend on how much other people enjoyed the joke. The point is to consistantly show them that lying is basically ineffective and can make things worse. It's easiest to do this when they're young and unskilled.
It will take time and patience, but the end result will be a child who sees the big picture, prefers straight dealing, but still has enough lying skills for when the great-aunt presents the truly hideous sweater. (Yes, that last part was a bit tongue-in-cheek.)