Strict parenting could be helping children to become “effective” liars, as they don’t feel comfortable telling the truth – academics claim.
Canadian psychologist Victoria Talwar conducted a “peeping game” experiment with two groups of three and four-year-old West African children.
The children – who were made-up of a strict school group and a relaxed school group – were told not to peek at a toy when left alone in a room.
When the researchers asked if they had looked, the majority of the children from the strict school lied about peeking at the toy.
However, “significantly fewer children” from the laid-back school lied.
“The children from the very punitive school were very quick to lie and they all lied really, really well,” Ian Leslie – author of Born Liars: Why We Can’t Live Without Deceit – told the Daily Mail.
“So actually by cracking down really hard on lying, the school had become a machine for turning out very skilled and effective little liars.”
The good little liars were even able to “better maintain their deception” than the other children when answering follow-up questions.
“A punitive environment not only fosters increased dishonesty but also children’s abilities to lie to conceal their transgressions,” the study suggests.
Psychotherapist Philippa Perry told the Daily Mail: “I found it interesting that there was all this research saying that if you take a draconian attitude towards lying you just makes people better at it.
“If a child lies to get out of trouble then that lie is not all down to the child, it’s a co-created situation. The atmosphere has been produced whereby the child does not feel safe telling the truth. So you can’t condemn the child for lying.”
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