Many years ago three little boys, not more than 5 got into trouble because they broke an exhibit. The exhibit was not expensive but what bothered me was that nobody owned up. Finally, circumstances showed that it could only be these three boys. I called them outside the class and asked them if they had broken the exhibit.
“No,’ they said in unison.
“Always tell the truth, children.
“No, no,” said one.
“Do you know what will happen if you tell the truth?”
“Sure,” he said. “If you tell the truth, you get beaten up. First my mum will scold me. Then my dad will beat me. Then my sister and i will cry.” He said it with such a matter of fact tone that I laughed.
“Ok, then have you ever tried not getting into mischief?”
“That is not possible. Everybody says anything I do or say is naughty.”
I gave him a hug and thought to myself: what sort of 5 years has this child had? The child had become a toughened liar at 5 an age when he should not even know that there are lies!
But the question remained: who made him such a pro at it?
Let me tell another story.
A boy was learning to ride the cycle. He turned to discover that his friend had let him go and that no one was helping him balance. He panicked and rode straight into a door. 6 kids came to me and he was one of them.
“I am sorry, I lost balance and rode on the door and a small hole became,” he said.
I looked at the others.
“Why have you all come?” I asked.
“He was afraid so we came with him.”
“Hmmm. Ok. You can all go and play.”
“No punishment?” asked the boy.
“No punishment. You came and told me yourself and that takes courage and truthfulness. So no, no punishment.”
“We told you,” said one of the group. “She never punishes if we tell the truth.”
Later I went to check the door and was horrified to find that the ‘small’ hole was big enough to pass a television set through. But the fact remained that the child had ‘confessed’ of his own accord and so was worthy of commendation.
Why do children lie?
Fear is man’s greatest enemy and fear makes a child say and do what he never must. Take away fear, take away guilt, feed a child self esteem and he will never stoop to tell a lie or do something reprehensible. Every child evaluates his own action and when he has done something incorrect he should have the courage to come and tell the adult about it. And the adult must shake his hands and say, “While I deplore what has happened I appreciate your courage to tell the truth. I am proud of you, my son.”
Ultimately, whether a child tells the truth or not depends on the adult.
Aruna Raghavan along with her husband Mr Raghavan are well known experts in child development & education. They have helped set up 50 schools across India and Malaysia. Our unique education method, ‘Quad Seek’ was originally researched in USA and adapted by the Raghavans – the educationists, mentors & inspiration behind Lumens Schools. Read their story.