Can Fibbing to Your Kids Turn Them Into Lying Adults?

We’ve all been there. At least most of us probably have. Many parents have fibbed to their children from time to time in an effort to elicit certain behavior. I’m not talking about egregious lies. I’m talking about the white lies that we find escaping our mouths: “I know that you want to play with your friend, but he said he can’t play until you finish your dinner.” You know the drill.


While most parents cop to fibbing, one has to wonder if this behavior can have a detrimental effect on our kids. According to one article in Parent Herald, it might.

First let’s break down lying in children. Apparently, bending the truth is actually a developmental milestone:

Susan Pinker reported in WSJ that, “The ability to bend the truth is a developmental milestone, much like walking and talking. Research led by Kang Lee, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, shows that lying begins early in precocious children. Among verbal 2-year-olds, 30% try to pull the wool over their parents’ eyes at some point. At age 3, 50% regularly try it. Fibbing is common among 80% of 4-year-olds and is seen in nearly all healthy 5- to 7-year-olds.”

But when children begin to imitate the bad behavior their parents exhibit (specifically in the form of lying,) it can result in a whole host of issues.

[Studies show] that kids tend to imitate what they see and when it comes to lying, the imitation is gradual. If the child is exposed to lying at an early age, he or she has the tendency to tell bigger lies as he or she gets older.


So next time you think about telling a fib to your child, consider how necessary it is. While we may need a little lie here and there to get through the day, we don’t want to demonstrate to our children that lying is an acceptable practice, because they just might take that lesson to heart.



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