The next time you smugly assert that you’ve heard something out of the mouths of babes, you may be quite off the mark. For much of what comes out of such mouths, we gather, could be very judicious with the truth. A new study on 1,200 children in the West has shown that children start lying at a young age. And no, there is no need to threaten them with the old bogey of growing a Pinocchio nose, it’s a sign that the child is at an important step in his or her mental development. And, better still, lying at an early age is a sign of future success. By the age of four, 90 per cent of the children are lying through their milk teeth. But by 16, this comes down to 70 per cent.
So when your teenager tells you that she was doing homework at the home of the handsome school football captain, there is a greater chance that she is telling the truth than your toddler who denies breaking your favourite vase. We are heartened by this news. If tiny persons can lie and grow up to be successful, we feel less guilty about the whoppers that we dish out now and again. We can attribute to early childhood development our propensity to call in and tell our boss that we are stricken by a fearful allergy when we’ve lined up a day at the spa.
Then there are the white lies we utter in order to protect others’ feelings. To the question, ‘have I lost weight?’ you cunningly answer ‘yes, your face looks thinner’ when you actually mean that it’s disproportionate compared to the rest of your size 45 superstructure. Or the old ‘how nice to see you’ when you are furiously wondering ‘why didn’t I see you in time to duck down the alley?’ As for the sage analyses we have been dishing out to you all these years, forgive us, but we’ve been having you on. So, you’ve no choice but to take this lying down.