When Kids Lie

Who’s your child’s role model when it comes to truth-telling? George Washington or Pinocchio?

A recent Wall Street Journal article explored some clues to teaching youngsters to tell the truth, based on research by Kang Lee, professor of human development and applied psychology at the University of Toronto. His 10-year study was published in June in the journal Psychological Science. The team studied whether children could learn about honesty from common childhood stories with morals at the end.

The experiment involved children, ages 3-7, in a controlled environment to see if they would peek at a covered toy when they were instructed not to.  When the researcher left the room — guess what? The kids “peeked” in almost all instances.

When the researcher returned, she read them one of the three “moral” stories: George Washington, “Pinocchio” or “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” A fourth group of children heard a story without a moral lesson.

After the story, the researcher asked the children to tell the truth about whether they had peeked. Those who heard the George Washington tale only lied about half the time, a significant improvement over the other groups. Those who heard “Pinocchio” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” were just as likely to lie as those in the control group.

When it comes to  helping our kids develop truthfulness, maybe we need to focus less on George Washington, “Pinocchio” or “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and find something a bit more contemporary, say, “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: “You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.”

Read the complete article at: http://online.wsj.com/articles/clues-to-teaching-young-children-to-tell-the-truth-1404167647