Punishing kids for lying does not work, according to a new study.
Experts in the Department of Education and Counselling Psychology at McGill University, Canada, found that children are less likely to tell the truth if they are threatened with a punishment.
The results were determined as part of an experiment involving 372 children between the ages of four and eight.
As part of the experiment, each child was left alone in a room for a period of time, with a toy placed on a table behind them. The children were told not to turn around and look at what was on the table behind them, with a hidden camera filming their reactions.
When the adults returned and asked the children whether or not they had looked, 67.5 percent had sneaked a look, with experts determining that for every one-month increase in age, the kids became less likely to peek.
In an interesting discovery, 66.5 percent lied about looking at the toy, with experts determining that for every one-month increase in age, the kids became more likely to lie as well as more adept at maintaining that lie.
Ultimately, the statistics showed that the children were also less likely to tell the truth if they were afraid of being punished, rather than if they were asked to tell the truth to please an adult.
Head of the experiment, Victoria Talwar, said that the study should give plenty of food for thought to parents.
“The bottom line is that punishment does not promote truth-telling,” she said, adding, “In fact, the threat of punishment can have the reverse effect by reducing the likelihood that children will tell the truth when encouraged to do so.”