Why Kids Lie

by Scott Noelle

Parent: “Did you eat the banana that I told you was for later?”

Toddler: (with banana residue on face and peel in hand) “No.”

If children are innately good-natured, why do they tell lies?

They lie because they’re good-natured... and they’re doing their best to navigate the treacherous waters of a “de-natured” culture.

The toddler is being good-natured when she honors her hunger. It’s not in her nature to believe in scarcity, nor to override her Inner Guidance with arbitrary limitations.

She’s being good-natured when she meets her parent’s expectation of wanting the forbidden fruit.

She’s being good-natured when she gives the answer she believes the parent wants to hear. It’s not in her nature to invite disapproval and disconnection.

In other words, we inadvertently teach our kids to lie when we participate in the Big Lie of our culture: conditionality.

Next time your child lies to you, take it as a cue to brush up on the Art of Unconditionality... and appreciate your child’s good nature. :)

Originally published on 2007-02-26
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