Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Toddlers and Lying

A friend of mine posted to Facebook that her 4 year old son had lied to her. She was understandably upset, but I thought I'd share my response with all of you. Because really? Lying is an important developmental step for toddlers and preschoolers. It's almost inevitable, and the way you react to the early, small lies will build the foundation for their future of honesty (or not).
Actually, the early lies that children tell are developmentally appropriate - and a sign of high intelligence! Not only did he put it together that 1) if I tell the truth then 2) I'll get in trouble (so his ability to predict consequences is AWESOME - particularly for his age), but he also was able to invent a story to hide the truth (CREATIVITY). The trick is to nip the early lies in the bud, but to praise him (oh yes I said it) for predicting the consequences and to tell him, "Honey, the trick is to predict the consequences ***before*** you do the stupid thing that's going to get you in trouble, and NOT do the stupid thing in the first place!"

If you look at it that way, he's halfway (at least) to learning self-control!!

He WILL lie to you, he MUST, so that he learns that it's socially unacceptable, well, at least under certain circumstances - that's a whole 'nother conversation - and that he can't lie, later, to his teachers, bosses, wife, etc....

Hope that helps it hurt less.
What do you think?

Jeez, Claire is obsessed with clothes today. She's on her third outfit. Gotta run. *sigh*


Adelas said...

I enjoyed this post -you have a good point- but I have to admit if you sat me down with a 2 year old and gave me the content this post as a command, I would have no idea where to start.

How on earth would you, personally, communicate that concept to a toddler?

leigh said...

Great post! So many parents get freaked out by what is usually perfectly normal development. Wouldn't you worry if your child NEVER told a lie?