By their second year, children start to discover the world around them and grow a desire to know how things work or why certain things are the way they are. They ask a lot of questions nagging their way into having all the answers which would drive parents to either answer honestly or resort to “little”, white lies. But are there different shades of lies? Is a white lie less harmful than a dark one?
In fact, all the lies, no matter how big or small, have the same color. According to studies, children at the age of two can sense when they are being lied to, and their parents’ authenticity, or lack thereof, can affect their emotional development.
Parents lie to their children for so many reasons, and the most common one is their desire to guide their behaviors. You could hear a lot of parents warning their children about watching too much TV or else their eyes’ colors would fade away and they’ll get ugly. You could also hear a father telling his child about a witch coming after children who don’t finish off their plates. Here you need to pause and reflect: is it sensible to guide your child’s behaviors by lying? Or is that a behavioral deviation itself?
There are also other parents who lie out of a belief that they’d add loads of excitement and a hint of magic to their children’s lives like when they tell them that gifts will fall from the sky in their sleep. To your surprise, children have an acute understanding of their environment and can tell when you lie to them which would, unfortunately, lead to trust issues. Children also tend to globalize and generalize, so lying to them about one small thing can drive them to doubt everything you tell them like the fact that you love them.
Sometimes parents lie to hide a painful truth like the death of one of the child’s relatives, so they say that he is alive, watching from above. But what should we do if the child kept waiting for that person to step down from the sky to meet him? Some other parents lie when they can’t explain sensitive or embarrassing issues. Whatever the cause that drives you to lie to your child is, you won’t gain but negative consequences as your child won’t trust you anymore and won’t feel guilty if he lies to you. What is the solution then?
You can lend them a brief answer that would satisfy their curiosity without having to elaborate on sensitive issues. You can say things like “I can’t answer this question right now”, “You don’t have to worry about knowing the answer now”, or “I don’t want to talk about the matter at this time”.
As for disciplining your child, don’t hesitate to tell him that if he doesn’t finish his food, he’ll get weak and sick. These reasons are more convincing to your child than that witch who goes around to punish children. You can put something on his eyes and ask if he likes it when he sees nothing. Tell him that he will lose the ability to see clearly if he watches TV for long hours.
Finally, honesty might not be the easiest policy, but it is certainly the best. Simplifying truths can help you handle any question or situation your child goes through. Lying isn’t something you want to teach your child as it causes nothing but harm.