How Parents’ Lies Breed Dishonest Children

Telling harmless lies to children is just part of being a parent, right? Maybe, but little fibs — even those told to keep a child’s fantasy alive or protect their self-esteem — can have some negative side effects. According to a new study, children who are lied to by their parents are more likely to behave dishonestly themselves.

Previous psychological studies have found that most parents do lie to their children. Research conducted last year on 200 families in the U.S. and China found that the overwhelming majority of parents lied to their children, and that most parental lies were meant to either curb misbehavior or to preserve a child’s feelings.

The University of California-San Diego researchers looked to a classic experiment in child development designed to test whether children will lie. The researchers looked at 186 children of two age groups: preschool age (3 to 5) and school age (5 to 7). One mixed-age group of the children was in the “lie” group: An experimenter told them that there was candy for them to eat in the next room, and when the child arrived, the experimenter admitted that there was no candy and that she had just —> Read More Here


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