Harsh discipline makes children lie

Children who are raised in an environment of tough discipline are more likely to lie in an attempt to hide their misbehaviour, new research has shown. Published in the journal Child Development, the investigation found kids who attend particularly punitive schools may be more inclined to exaggerate the truth when compared with peers who go to less strict learning establishments.

Professor Victoria Talwar of McGill University and Professor Kang Lee from the University of Toronto - established in 1827 - also discovered youngsters in harsher classrooms also have the ability to tell fibs that are more convincing than the ones thought up by children being educated in more relaxed settings.

The authors of the report suggested a punitive environment can help to foster increased dishonesty, as well as improving the ability of young people to hide their transgressions.

Professor Lee said: "One possibility is that the harsh punitive environment heightens children's motivation to come up with any strategies that will help them survive in that environment."

Alex Griffiths, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Children need a caring, loving environment with set and enforced boundaries. This encourages acceptable behaviour. Children need to learn how to behave.

"All our theories point to positive actions being more effective. Discussion, modelling and encouragement will work. Children need the 'why' about unacceptable behaviour.

"Rarely used sanctions may be a tool for dramatic aberrations but this must be followed by discussion and encouragement about future behaviour. If not, we will be teaching cruelty, lack of care for others and an 'I must survive at virtually any cost' mentality."