As we’ve mentioned before, children are little scientists and lying is just another type of experimentation.
At a young age, children lie as a way to experiment with their social relationships and how those around them react to the lie.
3. The Development of Imagination
Lastly, lying is a part of the development of imagination.
When a child is lying, it may simply be something they wish was true like, "Dad said I can have another cupcake" or the very famous "I don't have to go pee", used often because a child doesn't want to stop playing.
What to Expect
Lying starts around three year old, typically closer to four.
The younger the child is the worse they are at lying, i.e. you can probably tell when they aren’t telling the truth and they will fess up pretty quick.
Regardless of the lie or the motivation behind it, remind yourself that it's not malicious or something meant to hurt you. Try not to take it personally because it is a normal part of development.
What To Do About Lying
Despite lying being a healthy shift in development, there's no need to encourage it. Let it happen on its own.
And when it does, let them know when you know they’re lying, just try to keep it light instead of shameful: “That was an interesting story! Crayons don’t draw on walls by themselves!”
You can also begin to talk about the importance of telling the truth, even though your child may not be developmentally ready to understand honesty vs. lying. This won't happen until four+ years old.
In early childhood, you’re simply laying the foundation for honesty.