Most parents have experienced times when their precious little toddler has told them something that’s been a little less than the truth. A small white lie like, “No mommy. I didn’t flush your keys down the toilet.” These little tidbits of untruth can make parents concerned and want to discipline their kids, but according to new research in the journal of Developmental Psychology, these tall tales can actually be a good thing.
Researchers in the study played a guessing game with young children where they hid a toy behind each child’s back and had them guess what the toy was based on the sound that the toy made. After the kids had two turns the experimenter would tell the child that they had to leave to the room for a while but the child was asked to not look at the toy behind their back while the experimenter was out of the room.
As expected, many of the children immediately looked to see the toy and when they asked if they looked, upon the experimenters return, twenty-five percent of two-year-olds said they didn’t look; while fifty percent of three-year-olds fibbed and about eighty percent of four-year-olds stretched the truth.
Psychologist and researcher Angela Evans proposed, during an interview, that young children that lie may be displaying advanced thinking ability. The same children in the study were also tested on skills to measure their executive function and the results showed higher cognitive functions.
Since the act of coming up with lies and continuing them takes a certain level of skill and creativity, the results of the study should come as no surprise. So, the next time your little one tells that fib don’t be so quick to anger and punish. Your child may just be going through a natural part of toddler progression. Instead, try explaining why telling the truth is better no matter what. Then give yourself a little pat on the back for having such a cognitively advanced child!
What do you think? Is lying a sign of being precocious or naughty?