Science suggests you might actually want your kid’s pants to be figuratively on fire (if you can get any on them). That’s because research shows that when kids lie, it’s usually a sign of healthy cognitive development. Yeah, that doesn’t make raising a person who acts like a tiny sociopath any less frustrating. However, a forthcoming study published in Journal Of Experimental Child Psychology shows your kid actually does have a conscience. They just need to grow into it.
Researchers looking to get to the bottom of all the damn lies told children ages 4 to 9 stories about protagonists who did something wrong. The protagonist in the story then lied about their misdeeds and either confessed to their dishonesty or covered it up. When asked about it, kids ages 4 to 5 reported good feelings about the transgressions. They also had a positive attitude toward lying through their baby teeth about the naughtiness. The reasons for their feelings were mostly pretty simple. It was okay if it meant the hero got what they wanted and/or avoided punishment from authority figures.
Fortunately, by the time kids reached 7 to 9 years old, they had the opposite emotional response to the dishonesty. They linked positive feelings to coming clean about bad deeds, instead of covering them up like senator post strip club. Experts suspect this could be because older kids expect parents to react more positively to confessions. So, that part is on you. Oddly enough, researchers don’t mention 6-year-olds. If you have one, don’t trust them as far as you can throw them. Which is, actually, pretty far.
It’s important to note the small sample size: researchers only looked at 48 kids. But that doesn’t mean you should give your 4-year-old the benefit of the doubt. If you’re not sure if your kid is lying, ask the FBI. More importantly, remember you’re not perfect either.
[H/T] Science Direct