Have you ever lied to your child to stop a tantrum? Ever told a fib to get them to behave? You are not alone.
A study published in the International Journal of Psychology found that 84 percent of parents in the United States and 98 percent of parents in China lie to their children to make them behave. When lies are told to children it gets the clinical description of “instrumental lying.”
In both countries, the most common lie told by parents is the same. It occurs when a child is having a tantrum in public and the parent says he or she will walk away and leave the child if the kid does not behave.
Another common lie is a false promise of buying a requested toy or other item at a later date if the child behaves.
Parents lie the most about food, spending money and misbehavior, according to the study.
Parents in the United States lied more about fictional characters such as Santa Claus and the tooth fairy compared to parents in China.
One possible reason parents lie is because of the stress they feel when their children don’t behave, researchers said.
“What a parent is going nuts, they’ll do whatever it takes,” one parent in the United States said.
“Most of the lies I’ve told my children are last resorts and out of despair. If I could get them to do what I’m asking another way, I would,” another parent said.
The study also found that mothers and fathers lie at the same rate, but that Chinese parents were more accepting of telling lies to their children.
“When teaching children, it is okay to use well-intentioned lies. It can promote positive development and prevent your child from going astray,” one Chinese participant said.