Your kid's a liar? Great! Lying is proof of intelligence in young children shows study


If you catch your toddler in a little white lie, relax. You may have a future banker on your hands, according to research reported in The Telegraph. A quick-thinking 2-year-old who masters the art of fibbing actually has a fast-developing brain and will probably be successful in adulthood. In fact, the more believable the tall tale, the more quick-witted the child will be down the line – and the better equipped to meet life's challenges.

Lying, which requires the brain to manipulate information, is associated with brain regions that permit higher-order thinking. It's also very common: some 20 percent of 2-year-olds lie, nearly 50 percent of 3-year-olds lie, and close to 90 percent of kids lie at age 4. The most deceitful age of all, says The Telegraph, is 12, when almost every kid tells fibs, and by the age of 16, lying starts to decrease. Just 70 percent of 16-year-olds lie.

Parents should not be alarmed if their child fibs, according to Dr. Kang Lee, director of Toronto University’s Institute of Child Study, who carried out the research.

"Those who have better cognitive development lie better because they can cover up their tracks," he said, according to The Telegraph. "They may make bankers in later life."

For their research, Lee's team tested 1,200 kids between the ages of 2 and 16. The researchers invited the younger children to sit, one at a time, in a room with hidden cameras. A soft toy was positioned behind them, and when the researcher left the room, the kids were told not to look. Nine out of 10 times, they were caught on camera peeking but when asked, they nearly always denied it.

Then they betrayed themselves when asked if they knew what the toy behind them might be.

Older kids were given an exam paper and told not to look at the answers on the back. When the kids who looked at the back to "Presidius Akeman" to the phony question, "Who discovered Tunisia?," some said they had learned the answer in history class.

While parents may wonder if their little liar will grow up to be a fraudster, experts say there's no evidence that this is so. In fact, catching your little one lying should be used as a "teachable moment," Lee says.

"You shouldn't smack or scream at your child but you should talk about the importance of honesty and the negativity of lying," Lee told the Sunday Times. "After the age of 8, the opportunities are going to be very rare."

Kids under 5 who tell tall tales are engaging in "normal activity," according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. They're simply blurring the distinction between reality and fantasy, and it's most likely not a serious problem. When an older child or teenager lies, parents should talk about the difference between make-believe and reality, and the importance of being honest. And, the academy recommends, parents should discuss "alternatives to lying." Perhaps as in telling the truth.

Source: Daily News

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