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You may not approve of it, but lying is an important part of cognitive development and ultimately a part of growing up! Contrary to what you might think, new research has found that the earlier toddlers start telling lies, the more successful they will be in later life.
The research was carried out by Dr Kang Lee and his team at the Child Development Research Group at the University of Toronto in Canada. Lee suggests that lying requires the child to manipulate a series of fabricated events to try to make them concur. The skills required to do this include the ability to gather information from different sources and manage data to a desirable outcome. All of this requires an awful lot of thinking and brain power - an ability that young children rarely display. However, those that do are probably going to turn out to be more intelligent than their less capable peers in their cohort.
Whilst age two is the youngest age at children will be able to lie, for many children this 'skill' doesn't arrive until nearer the age of four. The ability to lie is situated within cultural experience - western toddlers will lie to protect friends whilst Chinese toddlers will tell a lie in order to protect their team.
Kang Lee offers an insightful way to tell whether a toddler is telling the truth or not. As they answer a question, watch their body language. If a toddler glances to the right as they offer an explanation, then they are most likely fibbing - looking towards right suggests that they are using the part of the brain to visualise something that they haven't experienced directly. If they look to their left then they are likely to be using the part of the brain that recollects events and therefore they are most likely telling the truth.
Dr. Lee suggests that parents should take advantage of these tell-tale signs in order to spot whether young children are lying and to act appropriately - this will help to teach that lying is not an acceptable option.
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