Dear Grandparenting: I spent one whole week playing parent to my three grandchildren when my daughter and hubby took a well-deserved weeklong vacation.
At the end of that week, I came to two conclusions. One, it is exhausting running herd on three children under age 10. Second, all three are on their way to becoming accomplished liars. I don’t mean little lies either. I’m talking about whoppers.
How would you handle this situation? I get in their face and confront when I think they’re lying. Then I send them to their room, but that hasn’t helped much. Got any better ideas? Sandra Everson, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Dear Sandra: It pains us to say so, but lying is evidently a normal part of the human condition. Linguistic scholars believe that playing games with the truth began right after the very invention of language itself, and children are remarkably good at it. Tests show that many adults are unable to detect when children are lying.
But there is a significant silver lining. Children who lie are likely smarter than their honest peers, according to Dr. Kang Lee, an expert in the field.
Parents of lying toddlers, maintains Lee, ought to celebrate. Not only do such children have better “executive functioning skills” for impulse control and tighter focus, but they also are skilled at seeing the world through other people’s eyes. A more recent study found young liars to be more socially adept and well adjusted.
Harsh punishment and stinging verbal reprimands have been shown to be generally counter-productive, making children inclined to lie more and lie better. Researchers say what works best is simply getting children to promise, “I will tell the truth.”
Multiple studies have found that children as old as 16 are less likely to lie after pledging not to do so. All children tell lies, said Dr. Lee. Very few will become chronic liars. Honest.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Scott Brown, of Corpus Christi, Texas, weighed in with this report:
”A funny thing came over me when I became a grandparent. I started acting goofy. I did things with my grandkids that I never dreamed I would do. Isn’t it wonderful!”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-828-7451.