Parents Use Lies to Change Children’s Behavior

February 10, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. lie 
[lahy] (n.) – something said that is not true
Example: The woman told her son a lie about buying candy later to stop him from crying.

2. instrumental [in-struh-MEN-tl] (adj.) – needed or helpful in getting something
Example Love and care from people is instrumental in making a child grow up happy.

3. psychology [sahy-KOL-uh-jee] (n.) – the study of people’s behavior
ExamplePsychology can explain why parents discipline their children.

4. tantrum [TAN-truhm] (n.) – bad temper in children
Example: The little girl throws tantrums whenever she does not get what she wants.

5. justify [JUHS-tuh-fahy] (v.) – to declare as right or reasonable
Example: Most parents justify lying as a way to make their children behave.

Read the text below.

New research shows that majority of parents in China and the US tell lies to change their children’s behavior.

Such tactic is called “instrumental lying.” According to researchers from the psychology departments in universities from the US, China and Canada, different kinds of lies are often used by parents.

Instrumental lies include lies to prevent bad behavior and lies to protect a child’s feelings.

The most common lie told by parents is that they would leave their child in public if the child would throw a tantrum.

Another common lie parents make is promising to buy something the child wants in the future. To get out of a toy store, some parents would tell their child that they did not bring money, and that they would come back next time.

Parents also tell fantasy lies. They say children will receive gifts from Santa if the children behave well.

Many parents use lies so their child would not feel sad. When a pet dies, they tell a child that the pet only went to a relative’s farm, where it can have more space for playing. Some parents also praise their children’s bad skills to cheer them up.

By telling a child “false” benefits of eating vegetables, such as saying each bite of broccoli makes a person taller, parents also encourage healthy eating habits.

Although lying helps change children’s behavior, researchers wondered whether parental lying is justified. They said using the tactic may have some impact to the parent and child’s relationship in the future.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, is instrumental lying to children alright? Why or why not?
·         Do you think lying to make people happy is a bad thing? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you think parents can discipline their children without using lies? Why or why not?
·         What else can parents do to make their children behave?


February 10, 2013