Strict parenting turns children into liars, experts claim

Academics claim parenting styles can have a big impact on children's ability and readiness to bend the truth

Rebecca Flood
Sunday 21 August 2016 09:59
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A study which has tracked a group of people born in the 1940s until the present day has concluded that parents who exert too much control over their children could be causing them lifelong psychological damage
A study which has tracked a group of people born in the 1940s until the present day has concluded that parents who exert too much control over their children could be causing them lifelong psychological damage

Strict parenting can turn children into adept liars as they do not feel safe telling the truth, experts have claimed.

Psychotherapist Philippa Perry said a child should not be solely to blame for lying, but that the parenting style could have a big impact on their ability and readiness to fib.

A study by Canadian psychologist Victoria Talwar, using the "Peeping Game", reinforced the claims.

Examining two schools in West Africa, one with stricter rules and the other with a more laid-back approach, researchers asked children to guess what object was making a noise in the game.

The test asks children to identify the objects by sound only, with the last one bearing no correlation to what it looks like.

The researcher then leaves the room and on return asks the child what the object is, and if they peeked.

Dr Talwar found that the number of students from the relaxed school who lied and told the truth was roughly on par with studies from other schools.

But those from the strict school were quick to lie, and did it “very effectively”.

Author of Born Liars – Why We Can’t Live Without Deceit, Ian Leslie, commented that by the school cracking down hard on lying, it created a “machine” for churning out very effective deceivers.

Mrs Perry, wife of artist Grayson Perry, is due to explain the Peeping Game findings on Radio 4 programme Children Who Lie, to be aired on Tuesday.

She told the Daily Mail: “If a child lies to get out of trouble then that lie is not all down to the child it's a co-created situation. The atmosphere has been produced whereby the child does not feel safe telling the truth. So you can't condemn the child for lying.

“We do our kids no favours at all when we persecute them for lying. We can be curious about the lie we can be interested in it and look at our part in it. But being draconian and rigid about it is not going to make a situation better.”

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