Feb. 14, 2008
The latest New York magazine has a fascinating article by Po Bronson on how and why kids lie:
Out of the 36 topics, the average teen was lying to his parents about twelve of them. The teens lied about what they spent their allowances on, and whether theyd started dating, and what clothes they put on away from the house. They lied about what movie they went to, and whom they went with. They lied about alcohol and drug use, and they lied about whether they were hanging out with friends their parents disapproved of. They lied about how they spent their afternoons while their parents were at work. They lied about whether chaperones were in attendance at a party or whether they rode in cars driven by drunken teens….
For two decades, parents have rated honesty as the trait they most wanted in their children. Other traits, such as confidence or good judgment, dont even come close. On paper, the kids are getting this message. In surveys, 98 percent said that trust and honesty were essential in a personal relationship. Depending on their ages, 96 to 98 percent said lying is morally wrong.
So when do the 98 percent who think lying is wrong become the 98 percent who lie?
Bronson’s article contains a number of revealing tidbits, including:
1. Lying is related to intelligence. The smarter the kid, the better they are at lying.
2. On average, a 4-year-old will lie once every two hours, while a 6-year-old will lie about once every hour and a half.
3. Scholars have found that kids who live in threat of consistent punishment dont lie less. Instead, they become better liars, at an earlier agelearning to get caught less often.
4. Children lie because they see their parents lie, and learn to imitate them. Adults inadvertently teach children that honesty only creates conflict, and dishonesty is an easy way to avoid conflict.
5. Permissive parents dont actually learn more about their childrens lives.
6. Most rules-heavy parents dont actually enforce them since its too much work.
7. Parents view arguing with their teenager as destructive to their relationship, while teens see it as strengthening their bond.
Read the whole article here.