Psychology
You are looking at: Home : Psychology

The truth about lies

Why telling white lies is an important developmental milestone for your child


Posted: 7 December 2012
by Sophie Westnedge

You'd be forgiven for thinking that there was no good news about lying, but actually being capable of stretching the truth is an important developmental milestone for your child, especially when
it comes to telling those little white lies.

“Children are very perceptive and often don’t want to hurt people’s feelings,” says psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer. “They are also afraid of getting told off if they tell the truth, so a small lie is often easier.”

Lies fall into three categories: those that are kind to others, those that are for self-deception, and the ones that protect us from punishment.

You might think you don’t have to worry about this web of deceit until your child is older, but according to Kang Lee, director of the Institute Of Child Study at Toronto University, most children know how to lie by the age of three. But even this needn’t be a cause of great concern for parents.

“White lies are a natural part of development,” explains Gummer. “It depends how old your child is and her intentions.” Encouraging your child to tell the truth will reduce the chance of her coming out with whoppers. Reward and praise your child for telling the truth, especially in difficult circumstances.


Previous article
Ten ways to spread a little happiness
Next article
When Toddlers Act Like Teens


psychology, development, lie, children
TwitterStumbleUponFacebookDiggRedditGoogle

Discuss this story

Talkback: The truth about lies

First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Security Image:
Enter the code shown:

I agree to the site's Terms and Conditions & Code of Conduct: