Importance of Honesty: Why Do Kids Lie

“Honesty is the best policy,” is an epigram we have heard and learned about while growing up for many years. However, despite it being taught to us at such an early stage of our life, we all more than likely told our first lie as a child. Although lying is recognized as morally wrong, it has been one of the oldest human social practices and has ironically become the new normal for our society today, so much so, that some of us have lost our morals completely.

It has even been estimated that the average American tells 11 lies per week. Children are typically stereotyped as innocent and pure however the normalization of lying has now come to the concern of many as our children are instantly picking up this negative aspect and implementing this habit into their life at an early age. Growing up we are taught that the most important value any human being can possess is honesty, therefore making it necessary, to tell the truth no matter the circumstances.

In the article, “Is Lying Bad for Us?” The Atlantic, written by Richard Gunderman, takes a position on how honesty can benefit our society at large in order to thrust his overall final appeal of self-betterment as lying only creates a series of problems. Gunderman starts his article by looking over the current condition of trustworthiness in America. He reports that individuals lie not exclusively to keep away from shame but to also benefit themselves in circumstances where lying has a few negative repercussions.

Although lying is known to be morally wrong, underman states that society today promotes the idea of lying as society has moved from the typical example in which honesty is appreciated as an intrinsically good virtue to where ‘ honesty is for the unsophisticated, ‘ for those who can’t bend the truth to achieve their own goals. Furthermore, he ties these elements with health in a study done at University of Notre Dame in which they found that those who did not lie experience less health problems such as headaches and stress. According to Gunderman, although liars’ target is to deceive others, liars also deceive themselves, eventually creating pathological liars. When we lie we tend to distort our own view of reality, and the more often we lie, the more habitual this distortion becomes. To Underman, by being honest with others and reducing the distance between the way things seem to be and the way they really are, when being honest, we ground ourselves in the world we actually inhabit and don’t blind ourselves to the consequences of the lies we tell.

As mentioned, lying is an unhealthy and negative habit practiced by all. However, lying is actually one of the most advanced skills one can learn as it requires skill, a skill that is being learned by our young children today. You may think to yourself why these children even have the need to lie at such an early stage of their life? Well it has become known that they do it in order to get a sense of security. It’s found to be that children lie for minor reasons, such as to avoid punishment, to bond with friends, or to simply gain a sense of control their parents don’t know about. The purpose of Po Bronson’s article, “Learning to Lie” is to inform parents that lying is becoming regularized at early stages of a child’s life and continues to be a growing pattern of lies as they grow older. According to Bronson, studies indicate that when children are monitored and recorded in a natural setting “a four-year-old will lie once every two hours, while a six-year-old will lie about once every hour and a half. Few kids are exceptions. Ninety-eight percent of the teens reported lying to their parents” (Bronson). According to Branson, children are easily influenced by adults to lie even if it is only a little white lie. Bronson purposely discusses these studies about lying and the statistics about how children lie in order to convey to his argument that children are easily influenced to lie from their parents as children mimic their parent’s actions and what they say. He states that most research has found that most children learn to lie effectively at an early age and that many parents presume their child will stop when he gets older and learns those distinctions. However, Bronson has found the opposite to be true, the earlier kids grasp the difference between lies and truth, they tend to use this knowledge to their advantage, making them more susceptible to lie when given the chance.

Developmental researcher Kang Lee, in his TED Talk “Can you really tell if a kid is lying?” he begins by asking his audience if they ever lied during their childhood, and most raised their hand in agreeance to lying as a child. Lee then moves on to speak about his studies about what happens physiologically to children when they lie. Lying is a typical part of development, they start to lie as young as 2 years old. Kang Lee also told that there were two main ingredients to make a good lying. One ingredient being the ability to know that different individuals have distinctive knowledge known as mind reading. Additionally, the second ingredient is self-control which means having the ability to control their facial expression, their speech, and body language. They do it a lot, starting as young as two years old, and have become superior to it. There’s a social generalization that children are pure, innocent, and must be protected at all extremes. However, how innocent are children, really? Lee explains that even though they may not know or understand adult concepts, that it doesn’t mean that they don’t understand the world around them in their own way.

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