Just beyond those "terrible two's," your child will learn the word "no" can be useful for more than refusal. The day will come when you ask her if she ate some of the chocolate cake you were saving for dinner. Though covered in icing, she will politely smile and say, "No." Is she lying? Maybe, and maybe not. It depends on her approximate age and level of language development. Learn when lying behavior can appear, why it happens, and what you can do about it.
1. Lying Behavior - Don't Worry Mom and Dad, Lying is Normal in Early ChildhoodWhile some children do not go through a lying stage, most do. When it happens, parents may naturally feel a range of emotions. Anger, frustration, sadness, and other feelings may emerge. These too, are normal. Realizing why lying occurs and that it is normal can help you cope with it more effectively.
2. Lying Behavior Before Age Three - Children May Not Be Aware They Are LyingBefore age three, your child is still acquiring very basic speech. She can understand much more than she can accurately express. She is only beginning to learn how to use her speech to cause events and to describe her thoughts and behaviors. Consequently, she may not fully understand that she is lying by answering, "No!" to the chocolate cake question. Instead of answering your question, she may be responding to the tone of your voice and body language that is communicating that something is wrong.
3. Lying Behavior Begins Early - Children May Lie as Early as Age ThreeAround age three and a half, your child may begin to understand that he can purposely use language to tell you something that isn't true. Children with speech, communication, and learning disabilities may begin this behavior much later. Children with severe learning disabilities can demonstrate this behavior as many as two or more years later than children without disabilities.
4. Why Do Children Lie? What Causes Lying Behavior?When children begin to lie purposely, there may be several reasons:
- To play with you;
- Because he thinks it is funny;
- To gain control of you or a situation;
- To avoid punishment;
- To cast blame on someone else;
- Because of fear or anxiety;
- To avoid doing something they do not want to do; or
- Because of jealousy.