Consequences of telling lies to children

The consequences of telling lies to children will be the effects of actions that will have long-term repercussions. We explain here why it is important to abandon this practice and some tips to speak honestly.

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz on September 23, 2021.

Last update: September 23, 2021

Telling lies to children has consequences that we may not understand for some time. Deception, even if it sometimes seems necessary and justified, Is it a bad idea. Just think about how we feel when we discover that a loved one has lied to us.

Nobody in life tells us how we should exercise the role of mother or father, that is, not explicitly. We learn along the way and always through the references we meet. Thus, the upbringing we had at home becomes the main source to which our memory will go.

In this sense, it is pertinent to know the outcome of this action, generalized and culturally approved, to avoid it and look for other alternatives. Nothing hurts when it comes to being better people. Here are some tips to get you started.

Consequences of not speaking honestly to children

As a father, mother or other family member who commits fallacies, we cannot predict what a deception revealed will lead to. What we do know is that they turn into negative emotions over the years.

Insecurities, aggressive attitudes, scams, manipulations are some of the behaviors that in certain people can have their foundations in those lies that an adult considered innocuous. Or feelings of guilt and shame that are manifested with recurrence in the mature stage of a person who grew up in an environment full of falsehoods.

By lying to the children, We are telling you that this can be done and it is valid if this is how we achieve our mission. And there we face them with an ambiguity, because it will not cease to seem contradictory that they are asked to be honest.

Although few parents would say they never lie, you should be aware of the direct and indirect effects that lying has on your children. This does not mean that I should tell you everything, but there is no need to make anything up. ".

Lawrence E. Shapiro

How does children's perception of lying vary?

Childhood is the stage of life in which the human being is transparent. It is characterized by the naivety of a new mind, in constant training.

Therefore, although this situation will not last forever, we have a duty and responsibility to care for it and not harm it with a bad example. At least not for something as preventable as not telling lies to children.

For them, a discovered lie is a sure deception, regardless of the intentions of who said it and how old they are. Judging it as harmful occurs in most children from the age of 4. This perception changes over the years.

Already around the age of 11, 28% do not consider the lie so reprehensible because they have become accustomed to living with it. And also because the practice towards them comes, in large part, from their affections at home or at school. This is according to the results of studies shared in the book "The Emotional Intelligence of Children" (1997) by Lawrence E. Shapiro.

At an early age, children are outraged by lies. But then they consider it something natural because adults have naturalized it.


Tips not to tell lies to children

If we have ever felt the need to tell lies to children, it has surely been with the full conviction that we would achieve a certain goal. Whatever the scenario, It is a strategy that we must leave behind.

Be honest: all lies are unnecessary

There are those who speak of the necessary lies white or silly, to say that they are harmless. These manifestations have in common that are used to reduce or disappear an attitude in children that we consider unfavorable for them. Or to coerce them according to our mission.

That our parents have used them with us does not mean that we cannot stop the cycle. It would be ideal to question whether by telling lies to children we are doing what is appropriate for their well-being and mental health. Or that it serves at least to reflect and question whether continuing to do so is really worth it.

Speak with age-appropriate words

No one better than parents or people close to raising children to understand their personality. This will give us clues on how to approach certain aspects with them, seeking to speak to them with words adapted to their age and level of understanding.

Especially if it is an issue that we consider very premature. Or, if they surprise us with questions about sex, masturbation, death. Let us tell them, with sincerity, that we need time to prepare that conversation.

In those cases, the most important thing is that they know that we respond to their demands in the face of the concerns they present and that we will seek the answers to their questions. Explaining things by making an effort to achieve empathy in children is part of the work we must do in parenting.

Don't assert authority by telling lies

We must not use lies to assert authority before them. Sooner rather than later they will verify that it is not true and the effect will be the opposite. We will lose credibility with every lie.

If you do not do what is assigned, even if you feel under threat, the child will see that it was not true and that we are not telling the truth. In many cases, we will be provoking in them a defiant reaction of resistance to the discomfort that we have caused them.



Anticipate scenarios

When it is inevitable that children face an event that can cause them stress or uncertainty, we are tempted to mislead them, thinking that we avoid a discomfort. It is not true and it is not right. The same will be the moment to face it.

For this reason, it is better if we anticipate them little by little at home what they will do the next day. And don't be surprised, for example, by a needle in the pediatric check-up if they are entitled to a vaccination on the calendar. Talking in advance, even if they don't like the idea, will be a gesture of sincerity that they will appreciate.

“Lying about serious matters is not a problem just because it makes it difficult for parents. Lying erodes closeness and intimacy. Lying breeds mistrust, betrays trust. Lying implies inattention to the deceived person ".

Paul Ekman

Value trust

We reserve for the last the advice that we consider most significant. And is that trust is the foundation of a solid relationship that will give children security in the circumstances they go through.

Being able to count on our parents without doubting them, knowing them sincere even in adverse events, is a certainty that will surely be reflected with maturity and courage in the personality of adults.

Sincere dialogue will always be a way to enhance children's personalities in the future.

The truth always comes to light

Reality is not always easy to name, but that is where we must turn our energies: thinking about how we can approach an issue that is uncomfortable without resorting to lies. Both in the short, medium or long term, these acts will have consequences that can be avoided.

Even if we are facing a situation that we believe is beyond us. For example, if we have to give the news of the sudden death of a very close relative. In this case, as in others, it will be advisable to seek the appropriate help and not tell lies to the children, believing that this will prevent them from harm.

Be honest with children and with ourselves It will be a decision that we will never regret. For the truth will always come out and they will know that they can trust us.