Back in September, at Back to School Night, which seems like a million year ago, I made a statement: “Every child has lied.”
I got a rueful chuckle from the parent audience. Of course they do, we all do. The polite lie, such as, expressing genuine enthusiasm for wearing a handmade rainbow loom necklace... Another favorite, omission, leaving out key details that might be incriminating. It doesn’t feel as bad as straight up fabrication and is easy to justify. Why upset the apple cart? Wanting to please is a big motivator. Our kids love to make us happy. They want us to be proud of them. This is not always obvious, but definitely true. If making a mistake is verboten in their minds or in the family culture, the pressure is on. Lying or omitting information, seems like a logical response to keep them in the good graces of the people they care about most. Making up stories or creating your own set of facts, is something a fair number of kids like to do. Children are very willing to give everybody full credibility. They also don’t start calling each other out on tall tales until Jr. High. Growing up makes kids a little less gullible, part of being equipped to venture into the broader world.
So, if we know it is going to happen sometimes, what do we do, so it doesn’t start happening more often? Address it and discourage its effectiveness as a fallback response or habit. Hearing your child lied, is probably in the top three list of “News Parents Don’t Like to Get”. News that is not easy to deliver. As educators, we know kids are going to do these things, it is not shocking, it is being human. The key aspect is acknowledging but not excusing. Parenting and teaching will always be the long game. As Maria Montessori said, “We are preparing them for life.”