We always hold this believe that children do not lie. In fact their forthrightness sometimes can be very unnerving, There is a book (I think ) called Children say the Darndest Things. We always see the videos of children innocently telling embarassing truths. Remember Tan Ho Ming Petronas Merdeka advert done by the late Yasmin?
But according to research done by Victoria Talwar of McGill University, Canada, lying is a complicated business, young children are much better liars than what their parents or us adults realize. She said that children start lying at the age of three or four. Prof Talwar further added that it is an important milestone in the childen’s cognitive development. Her ground breaking research on children lying had helped the Canadians courts conducting testimony of children. The research is useful especially in family or children abuse cases. The research convinced the Government to accept child Witness testimony. Meaning children are competent enough to testify in courts as oppose to the previous ruling that they were not. The onus now is in the hands of those who challenge the capacity of children testifying to prove that it is not so.
It is difficult to lie successfully, P Ramlee recognised this a long time ago in his Madu Tiga. Surely we remember those words
“Mesti pandai pembohong, mesti pandai temberang, tetapi jangan sampai, hai pecah tembelang”
So tendency to pecah tembelang is very likely in lying. In lying you have to work your memory load and remember what you say. You have to inhibit your expressions and think very quickly so as not to say something different from what has been said earlier. You maybe even have to simulate expressions and judged the perspective of the other party. You have to be tactical. Indeed lying can be very complicated. A real tangled web.
But Talwar’s research also clearly showed that, children who promise to tell the truth are more likely to do so. So us parents must emphasise on the positive consequences of telling the truth to children. Do not ask them directly whether they’ve done something or not. Ask them to promiseto tell the truth first. So if your children broke something in the house and tell you about it, please make sure that you are are happy that they tell you about it, even though you may punish them forbreaking things or don’t like what you hear, but do tell them that it is good of them in telling you of their act. Talwar fuether added that, if we do this in chilhood, it will be reinforced when they are older. This is very imporatnt when they beconme teenagers and indulging in dangerous behaviour and they are more likely to tell you about it.
Talwar final words ” There is no point in telling a child about truth telling and then have them catch you lying”. Children learn from modelling their parents, they learn to lie from their parents and those close to them in their childhood days.