We may treasure honesty, but the research is clear. Most classic strategies to promote truthfulness just encourage kids to be better liars.
I’m not going to name any of the researchers’ names, quote any of the surveys or studies, give any of the statistics, or recount any of the given examples, etc. because you can read the well-written first chapter of the book, NurtureShock, for that…but here’s the premise.
–The better a young child can distinguish a lie from the truth, the more likely she is to lie given the chance. Most advice will tell you that kids will grow out of it once they understand, but actually they grow into lying.
-That when a kid lies to a parent to cover up a transgression, it is so expected that less than one percent of the time do parents address both the wrong AND the lying. So, therefore, from the kid’s point of view, his attempted lie cost him very little.
–Lying is related to intelligence. “While we think of truthfulness as a young child’s paramount virtue, it’s lying that is the more advanced skill.”
– Kids who live in threat of consistent punishment don’t lie less. Instead, they become better liars, at an earlier age- learning to get caught less often.
–Kids lie to make the please the parent. When faced with a situation to create conflict or make those around them happy, they will pick the latter.
So, the suggestion is parents need to teach their kids the worth of honesty just as much as they need to say that lying is wrong. Be careful as the parent to not put them in the position to lie.
In kindergarten, I brought in a homemade sailboat for show and tell…the problem was I said that I made it. My mother found out because she was intuitive and very sharp about these things and asked. Honesty was not only one of her best policies but at the faintest deviation, she was a force to be reckoned with. I was whisked back into that classroom the next morning and not only had to apologize to the teacher for my deception but she insisted that I stand in front of the whole class and make it right. It was so embarrassing that I will always remember that lie…I was taught a lesson.
Held up to the light
The Bible is clear about lying and the tongue…just read Proverbs, Psalms, James, Ephesians…We could go on. “Do not lie.” is one of the Ten Commandments. But let’s be honest right now, outright lies are not the only form of dishonesty. Deception of any kind is not right…that includes manipulation, hypocrisy, duplicity, even at times being evasive of the truth. Teach that. Talk about that when I rise and when I tuck covers in, when I drive with my kiddos in the car or in my home…and then live it out. Now that’s a sobering truth.