Does your kid lie?

Pinocchio's nose

John Medina, in his new book, Brain Rules for Baby, says that the research shows that four-year-olds lie about once every two hours and six-year olds once every ninety minutes. Some of these studies were done inside their homes, not in a clinic.

The Bible indicates that every man, woman, and child is prone to lie. (Only Jesus did not lie, but he did tell some whopping big truths!)

So what do we do about lying? Listen to this synopsis of one experiment conducted by Dr. Victoria Talwar in Montreal, Canada. They asked kids to identify three sounds without looking. They played the first sound, a siren; the kids got it easily. The second sound was a crying baby doll, and most kids got it. The third sound was a quick part of a Beethoven piece from a birthday card. The experimenter would play the sound but then announce that she had to leave the room. Then she would tell the child not to peek and that she would be back in just a minute. She would place a soft, stuffed soccer ball on top of the card and leave the room. Of course, almost all the kids peeked. When the experimenter returned, the children would say that a soccer ball had made the sound. They were asked if they peeked; most would lie and say, “No.” (NurtureShock, Bronson)

To encourage the children not to lie, they would read them a story. To one child they would read the “Boy Who Cried Wolf.” As you know, it ends when the real wolf comes and eats the sheep and the boy. The moral: Lie and get punished.

To another child they would read the story, “George Washington and the Cherry Tree.” The moral: Dad was proud of George for telling the truth.

Results: The “wolf story” made no difference. BUT . . . The “cherry tree story” inspired 75% of the boys to tell the truth and 50% of the girls.

Why did that story make such a huge difference? Here is what they discovered: “Children want to make their parents happy.”

Children are born with a desire to be in their parents’ good graces. The parent/child relationship is foremost. God made them that way. It is the original image of God in them longing to be expressed.

Application: The next time you need your child to tell you the truth, call them to relationship. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” He didn’t say, “If you don’t keep my commands, I’ll kick you out of the twelve.”

Try something like this:

“Telling the truth means more to me than a broken lamp.”

“Being honest with me will make me proud of you even though you may have scratched the car with your bike.”

We could even go a step further and say, “I will be proud of you and God will be proud of you, too. He created us to be the kind of people that tell the truth.”


If you would like to talk more about this topic, send us a note at