We all may be guilty of lying to kids, but is it ok?


The park that is allegedly closed

“Sorry, the TV is asleep.” 

“We can’t go on a walk, the park is closed.” 

“I’ll send your parents up to check on you as soon as they are home.” 

“Yes, you are right, I am 24.” 

“It is true, you did get delivered in the mail as a baby.”

These are just a few of the white lies I have shared with the children I babysit to avoid meltdowns, arguments or uncomfortable conversations. So, quite obviously, as a babysitter I can admit I have told my fair share of lies, and truthfully, I don’t really see the problem with it.

I know, lying is wrong. Certainly, it isn’t the best decision to tell lies to children—especially other people’s children—when typically there could be other ways around the issue, yet sometimes, in the heat of the moment, I simply can’t avoid it.

A lie becomes the only way to quickly get the kids to follow my direction in peace because otherwise, they can’t conceptualize the point I am trying to make and a tantrum tends to be in the near future. Usually, it is the simplest way to avoid a conflict. Because yes, if the TV is asleep we can’t watch it, turns out we have to go to bed too.

Typically, these are simply little white lies in my mind in order to manage the craze I often encounter whilst babysitting. Amongst the chaos I resort to these things, and honestly, I have never seen much of a problem in doing so. Nonetheless, I have begun to wonder if these can be somewhat harmful, and to what extent do they switch from being innocent, to having an impact.

Amongst the chaos I resort to these things and honestly, I have never seen much of a problem in doing so.

Upon investigating my question further, I have come to a pretty simple conclusion: As long as the lie is about something minor and in favor of the child’s innocence and the truth won’t be unveiled in the relative future, it is okay. This is of prevalent importance as if children discover someone they trust has been lying to them, they may begin to develop difficulties in handling emotions because they are typically being avoided by lies and, you guessed it, the development of trust issues.

Regardless of its common harmlessness, it is important to assess the question of “Is lying to children okay?” by making it situational. Simply looking at why you are lying. Is it for the good of my child, or is it for the good of me? Then, you must question whether they can even understand the truth. If the answer to that is no, then your lie may be justifiable, because the truth may expose them to something they can’t process as a result of their maturity.

So, with this, I think I will continue to entertain the few lies I have created over the years. Fewer tears, more sleep at night, and the avoidance of some very uncomfortable conversations can be gained and I don’t see very much to lose.