Lied-to children more likely to cheat, lie

Most parents admit to lying to their children sometimes, while urging children to be honest.  But your will kids do what you do, not what you say.

A new experiment is the first to show a connection between adult dishonesty and children’s behavior, with kids who have been lied to more likely to cheat and then to lie to cover up the transgression. Research has documented that the majority of parents admit to lying to their children even as they maintain that honesty is an important value. "The actions of parents suggest that they do not believe that the lies they tell their children will impact the child's own honesty. The current study casts doubt on that belief," the authors say.

About 60 percent of the school-aged children who had not been lied to by the experimenter peeked at the tricky temptation toy [cheating] -- and about 60 percent of the peekers lied about it later. Among those that had been lied to, those figures rose to nearly 80 percent peeking and nearly 90 percent of the peekers lying.

... preschoolers ... peeked and lied at about the same rates.

Even if it's expedient for an adult to lie -- to get cooperation through deception, for example, or to get children to control their emotions -- it's probably a bad idea in the long run.

I've been guilty of this. For example, I told a screaming child seated nearby in a restaurant, "This is the no screaming section of the restaurant. You're not allowed to scream here." It worked. The child was shocked enough by a stranger saying this that he shut up immediately. Now I see that it was a bad idea.

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