Lying. Is it intentional?

Videos are circulating the internet of parents secretly recording their kiddo in front of a candy bowl or some other special treat. The parents ask the kiddos not to touch said treat and run out of the room before asking them to be patient and not to touch until they get back. Ada James, 2.5 year old daughter to Thomas Rhett, and 2 year old Stormi, daughter to Kylie Jenner were able to be patient, so surely my almost 4 year old would follow suit.


So back to my initial question, did my child intentionally lie to me? Yup. So now what? I like Dr. Eastman’s approach to lying in this article. She gives tips on how to handle lies in children of all ages. When I read through her tips for 2-3 year olds and 4-5 year olds, I realize that my son is smack dab in the middle of these ages. He will be 4 next week and both tips are great but I wanted to know the explanation behind the lie. Why? Why did he lie in the first place? I scoured the internet looking for reasons why my sweet, loving, 4 year old lied straight to my face. Did he not understand what I was asking him? Was it because he truly doesn’t know right from wrong? Did he worry I would get mad at him?

According to experts, kids lie for lots of reasons but most believe they are simply too young to truly understand this phenomenon. Lying makes us feel sad, disappointed and is the beginning step to breaking trust between people. As adults we take this behavior to be extremely hurtful. But kiddos? They just don’t understand the concept of this act and the emotions involved. As parents we need to teach them that lying is a horrible thing! But wait, why then does a psychology professor say we should celebrate said lies?!

“Dr. Lee said that younger children who bend the truth have a cognitive advantage over the ones who don’t.” Check this out. Ok, now I’m confused. Do I want my kid to lie or not? No. Lying at a young age proves that they have developed some pretty useful tools that will help them as they grow into sophisticated adults but for now, lets just focus on them being kids. I want my child to excel, but in age appropriate ways and lying to me isn’t something that I want him to think is ok. Talking through situations seems to work best for my family, and that may be different for yours and that’s ok! So check out my experiment and read my conclusion below and of course let me know if you decided to try this challenge and how it worked out for you!

  1. Watch the first video of Jameson being tempted by the delicious, red dye 40-filled gummy worm on our facebook page.
  2. Watch the 2nd video of us talking about how he lied after I showed him the secret recording. Jameson video 2
  3. Follow up. I decided an actual conversation with Jameson was needed because in the video you can see that he seemed pretty dismissive to my learning moment. So, I decided to test my communication skills and told Jameson that we were going to test Daddy with the same gummy worms. With Jameson by my side, I asked my husband to wait patiently until I returned, and then would he be able to eat his treat. As I quietly eavesdropped from the other room, I could hear them chatting softly about eating a gummy. When I returned, I asked Daddy if he ate a gummy. He looked at Jameson and Jameson whispered, “say no!” I looked at Daddy and with a firm voice asked again. He said he did eat one and that Jameson told him to. Jameson quickly responded that he didn’t. I told them they needed to have a quick conversation to make sure they were on the same page with what was said between them. After they did, I told Daddy that there was no need to lie when I asked him a question and moving forward to tell me the truth even if he thinks I would be mad. I then asked Jameson directly if he told Daddy to eat one. He said yes. Mommy for the win! I felt vindicated. But what and to whom was I trying to justify this to? No one, just me being me. I thanked my kiddo for being honest with me and felt happy to know that some of my words may have actually resonated. We definitely have some work to do but I am happy with this learning moment for now, and will continue to use my words to help my child grow.