Children start lying as early as two years old and they’re really good at it, developmental researcher Kang Lee tells us in this Ted Talk. Having studied how children learn to tell lies for two decades, Lee delves into the physiology of lying. However, he believes that parents must celebrate when their child starts lying.
He explains why. A key ingredient for being able to tell a lie is self-control and the ability to control your speech, facial expression and body language. “And we found that those young children who have more advanced mind-reading and self-control abilities tell lies earlier and are more sophisticated liars. As it turns out, these two abilities are also essential for all of us to function well in our society.”
It’s not easy to tell when kids lie, but behind that neutral mask, “the child is actually experiencing a lot of emotions, such as fear, guilt, shame and maybe a little bit of liar’s delight.”
Here are some figures as well, to think about. Lee shares, “We found that regardless of gender, country, religion, at two years of age, 30 percent lie, 70 percent tell the truth about their transgression. At three years of age, 50 percent lie and 50 percent tell the truth. At four years of age, more than 80 percent lie. And after four years of age, most children lie. So as you can see, lying is really a typical part of development. And some children begin to tell lies as young as two years of age.”