Yes, we teach our children the importance of being honest; yes, they lie to us anyway. But there is an upside: Lies may help boost a child's memory.
Let's break this one down: A good liar needs to think on their feet, remember details, sound convincing and - above all - stick with their lie. And that requires a good memory. So it isn't all that surprising that research reported in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology found that children who were skilled liars tested higher in memory and verbal creativity tests.
Children lie for a variety of reasons - to avoid blame, to get out of conversations and even to avoid hurting someone else's feelings. The important thing is to make honesty a cornerstone of your family. Here are some tips to pave the way:
- Don't lie to them. If you want them to be honest with you, be honest with them.
- Don't scold for telling the truth. Even if they are in trouble, point out that you are glad they told you the truth.
- Differentiate between truths and lies. Especially those gray areas.
- Teach them better language. "Thank you for the sweater," is a much nicer statement than "I think this sweater is hideous." Both may be true, but only one is more appropriate to say to your Great Aunt Bessie.
- Give them creative outlets. Bolster their memories through storytelling, games and other forms of expression.
- Cut them some slack. They are going to lie to you. It happens. Move on.