Every child attempts at making up a story or directly commit to a lie which may either start as little jokes but end up to a life of a liar.
They’ll deny having eaten a cookie while their face is covered in crumbs. They’ll say “No, I didn’t bring the cat in,” when mom knows there’s no other possible way that thing would wound up in the living room.
But over time, a child’s lies become more elaborate and there are a number of reasons for this. The most shocking? Strict authority.
How A Strict Atmosphere Makes Kids Expert Liars
According to a research conducted at McGill University, they found that when they examined children from two West African schools. One school had a very strict, authoritative atmosphere while the other was more relaxed. And concluded that it’s all got to do with fear.
Researchers had each kid play a game in which they had to guess what an object was based on the sound it made. All of the objects could easily be identified by their sound – except the last one. It was absolutely impossible to identify unless you looked at it. That’s the important part.
You see, right before the examiner asked each child to identify the final object, they left the room for a few minutes. When they returned, they asked the child what the object was and if they had peeked. Guess what? The children from the stricter school were far more likely to not only peek but lie about peeking as well. They did this very effectively. Author Ian Leslie commented on this quite well when he explained that the strict school had essentially become ‘a machine,’ churning out deception experts.
Psychotherapist Philippa Perry extends these findings to the home, pointing out that strict parenting creates an atmosphere where children do not feel safe telling the truth. Thus, she argues, lies are actually co-created between a child and parent.
The Truth About Lying
The sooner a child is able to lie convincingly, the more likely they are to be intelligent and have good memory. Studies have also shown that kids who are able to lie by age two are more likely to become successful adults.
You see, lying involves many parts of the brain that are also associated with executive functioning – which covers areas such as attention, reasoning, problem solving and planning.