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How Lying To Your Kids Can Impact Them As Adults

A new study found that when parents lie to their kids (even little white lies) their kids are more likely to tell lies as adults.
kid lying to mom
Updated: May 30, 2023

New research suggests that lying to our kids—even those little white lies that help us with discipline—makes it more likely for our kids to hide the truth when they get older. 

Many parents have pretended to leave their kids at the playground as a last ditch effort to get them to leave. And how many of us have told our kids that something is closed today just so we don’t have to deal with telling them they can’t go? Parents do this all the time because, well it works. But does it really?

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You wouldn’t really leave your child at the playground and their favorite store is certainly not closed at 2pm on a Saturday. These are false statements—lies. 

Of course, they do sound pretty harmless. And in those difficult moments, little white lies can really help avoid tantrums and keep things moving along. Nevertheless, new research tells us that even minor dishonesty affects our kids for the worse. It might work now, but it has negative long term effects.

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The Study On The Effects of Lying to Kids

Researchers in Singapore found that study participants who were lied to as children were more likely to say they lied to their parents as adults.

They also had more difficulty meeting psychological and social challenges, and grew up to be more selfish and experience more guilt and shame.

Alternatives to Lying to Your Kids

So what is a parent to do when tough situations hit? Sometimes you just have to avert a tantrum right?

Try explaining your reasons to your child, as this will make them more receptive. Also, try to use positive phrases like, “yes, we can ride bikes tomorrow. Today we are running errands.”

At the end of the day, accept that your kids might not always be happy about your decisions. A little protest is not the end of the world. But maybe, a kid who grows up dishonest feels like it is. 

Long-term trust and openness will help you support your child as he or she grows. Invest in honesty now, even if it’s hard. It will pay off when your teenager comes to you with hard truths, and you can guide them with love.

Elisa Cinelli

About Elisa

Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based… Read more

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