If you’ve ever taken a “little white lie won’t hurt anyone” approach with your parenting, you might want to think again as it turns out telling lies to kids could do them more harm than good.
According to a recent psychology study undertaken by the Nanyan Technological University in Singapore, parents who tell lies to there children could be causing them detrimental effects. While telling children lies might elicit compliance in the short term, the longer-term effects could be children who turn into adults that are more likely to lie than their peers.
To conduct the study, the research team at the university asked 369 Singaporean young adults whether their parents had lied to them when they were children, how much the lie to their parents now, and how well they adjust to adulthood challenges. The study found that the adults that were lied to most often as children were more likely to lie to their parents in adulthood.
According to the study, the respondents also said they faced greater difficulting in meeting psychological and social challenges. Disruptiveness, feelings of guilt and shame, and manipulative characteristics were some of the challenges that these particular respondents faced.
Assistant Professor Setoh Peipei from the lead author of the study from NTU Singapore’s School of Social Sciences said, “Parenting by lying can seem to save time especially when the real reasons behind why parents want children to do something is complicated to explain. When parents tell children that ‘honesty is the best policy’, but display dishonesty by lying, such behaviour can send conflicting messages to their children. Parents’ dishonesty may eventually erode trust and promote dishonesty in children.”
“Our research suggests that parenting by lying is a practice that has negative consequences for children when they grow up. Parents should be aware of these potential downstream implications and consider alternatives to lying, such as acknowledging children’s feelings, giving information so children know what to expect, offering choices and problem-solving together, to elicit good behaviour from children.”
Want to know if someone is lying to you? Here’s how to tell.