Why Children Lie

When children lie it is often tempting to see the reason for the lie as a mystery. For example; “Why would my child lie about taking that toy from his brother, when it is so obvious that he did do just that?” Then, deepening the mystery, parents often ask, “Why would he make up such a far-fetched story to cover up his actions? The lie and cover up seem so illogical and unnecessary.” Thus, parents sometimes tend to treat the problem as one of logic and intelligence; they puzzle over why their children would lie. Scripture solves the mystery. Children are born liars. When we sin, we lose the ability to be logical. We are blinded by self-interest (Proverbs 4:19).

Lying is the extension of a self-centered nature. Children tend to lie in two types of circumstances. First, they lie when they fear a consequence so much they will do anything to avoid it, e.g., punishment for hitting. Second, children tend to lie when there is something they desire, and they see lying as the best way to get it; e.g., I am angry with my brother, so I will make up something to make him look bad. In both situations the reason for the lie is the same—a self-centered viewpoint.

Children lie because they fear exposure. They think their thoughts and doubts are hidden, and a lie is the best way to solve the problem. However, nothing is hidden from God.

Lying is an indication that children are much more self-aware than they are often given credit for. It is compelling evidence of their true heritage: original sin. Children don’t have to be taught to lie, it comes naturally.

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