Catching your child in a lie can be confronting, but research shows that the capacity to deceive is an important sign of your child’s improving social and cognitive development.
Successfully getting away with a whopper requires many skills that will serve our children throughout their lives, including:
When lying, children must remember details of the truth in order to separate it from their tall tale. They must also engage their inhibitory control in order to suppress the truth, shift their focus, plan ahead and commit to the lie.
By offering a credible lie, children demonstrate they have the ability to see the world from another person’s perspective, what is called the Theory of Mind. This helps them realise that their actions might make you distressed, angry or upset, causing them to use lies to cover up what they’ve done.
Coming up with these crafted stories requires complex processes and is a sign of your child’s verbal intelligence. They need to analyse the information they have, and use their language skills to reason with and present a viable alternative (i.e., a lie).
As you will know, some of these fibs demonstrate real feats of imagination. New characters, extraordinary achievements and fantastical outcomes, however you view it, it takes some creative muscle to pull off a credible lie.
Learning to lie is a developmental success story. The first time you catch your child in a lie there is no cause for concern, instead it is a cause for celebration!