Herein lies the rub: lying isn’t necessarily a bad thing, regardless of whether a propensity for it emerged naturally or it was nurtured by strict parenting. As Slate pointed out, “When kids lie, it’s not a sign that they’re on the road to delinquency – it’s a sign that they are developing important psychological skills.”
Indeed, there are links between a child’s cognitive abilities and their ability to deceive. Not only does it demonstrate their ability to think non-linearly, but it also shows that they must have a pretty good working memory if they can keep their lies, as well as their facts, straight.
According to a developmental model of lying conceived by Talwar and her colleagues, children around the age of two begin telling primary lies. These fibs are designed to conceal errant actions but do not take the mind of the interrogating parent into consideration, and are often unconvincing.
By four years of age, secondary lies appear. These are personalized to acknowledge the accuser’s personality, behavior, and mindset, and are more plausible than primary lies. Tertiary lies emerge at the age of seven or eight, which merge lies with facts in order to create believable stories.
The earlier these stages of lying appear, the more likely your child is smarter than the average toddler. Effective lying is a sign of emotional intelligence, a facet of speech and body language that involves a degree of empathetic manipulation, of Machiavellian intuition. If your children lie, and they lie well, they are likely to grow up to be intelligent and successful. They can separate fact and fiction in their heads better than most.
So fret not, parents – you could have a little creative genius on your hands. You could, of course, also have a tiny supervillain, so tread lightly.
Lying isn't just the child's fault - it's your fault too. Syda Productions/Shutterstock
[H/T: The Independent]