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Telling lies

lies; fibs; white; liar; truth; rumours; dishonest; honesty; honest; cheat; cheating; imagination; mistake; consequences; joking; trust; believe; conscience; truthful; feelings; blame; lying; ;

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My dad always used to say that to be a good liar you have to have a terrific memory to remember all the lies you told and who you told them to!

telling lies
Rules about telling lies can be very confusing. Almost every day there are stories about some important person being accused of telling lies, and at the same time your parents and teachers are telling you that it is not OK to tell lies.

When you are a little kid what you want to do most is please your parents. Little kids sometimes think it will make their parents mad if they tell the truth about doing something wrong, and then they find that their parents get even more mad when the kid tells a lie!

telling tales on othersWhen you get older and you know that telling the truth is important you can still get lots of confusing messages. Here are some ideas to help you think.

 


Things to think about

  • As you get older you see other people telling lies or not telling the truth, so you might see adults telling you to do one thing and doing something different themselves.
  • telling liesHave you ever been told off for saying things like, "Mum said she hopes you don't stay long" as you say hello to visitors and your mum is dying of embarrassment standing next to you?
  • Maybe there are times when it doesn't seem like a good idea to tell the truth, so you say nothing. Is that the same as telling lies?

What are lies?

In the dictionary it says that to tell a lie is to purposely say something that is not true because you want to make other people believe it.

Why do people tell lies?

Here are some of the reasons why kids might tell lies.

  • To get out of trouble, or to avoid getting into trouble.
  • To avoid punishment.
  • braggingTo avoid embarrassment (so that they fit in with the group).
  • To get someone into trouble.
  • To keep a friend out of trouble.
  • To make themselves look more interesting to others (by exaggerating, bragging or boasting).
  • To protect their privacy eg "What did you do at school today?" "Nothing!"
  • To avoid an awkward social situation. "Mum says that I can only have three friends to the party. Sorry I can't ask you…"
telling lies
  • To get their own way with a parent or teacher. ("Mum says I can't do PE today. The teacher says I don't have to do the homework"). 
  • To keep themselves safe (like avoiding a stranger in a car asking directions).
  • To keep secrets.
  • So that they don't hurt people's feelings.
  • To make up games and have fun.

Are some lies not as bad as others?
Lots of people think that there are two kinds of lies, 'bad' lies and 'white' lies.

They think that 'bad' lies are never OK but 'white' lies might be OK.

I asked some children what they thought about lies and this is what they said. I think they have some pretty good ideas. What do you think?

When it's never OK to tell lies

  • To get out of trouble (like saying you didn't do something when you did).
  • telling liesTo upset or tease someone (like telling lies about someone or spreading rumours).
  • To pretend you've got permission to do something when you haven't (like saying, "Mum says I can go to the shopping centre after school," when she hasn't said that and would be very worried).
  • To hide things belonging to others and pretend you don't know where they are (this isn't 'just teasing;' it is unkind).
  • To tell lies about people (like saying someone has told you something and it's not true).
  • To be dishonest and not own up (like getting all the class in trouble).
  • To blame someone else for something you have done (to get them into trouble and get you out of it).
  • To be greedy and not share (like saying you haven't got any to share, when you have shared all their stuff).
  • To cheat someone (or cheat in a test, which is cheating yourself really).

When it's sometimes OK to tell lies (white lies)

  • Keeping yourself safe (like saying, "Mum can't come to the phone right now," when a stranger calls and asks if your mum is there and you're alone).
  • Using good manners ("thank you but I couldn't eat another piece" - so that your host can have the last piece of cake).
  • So that you don't hurt people's feelings ("Thank you for a lovely present." Even if it's not what you really want, or even if you hate it).
  • Keeping 'good' secrets (like pretending that you don't know what dad has bought for mum's birthday).

Is saying nothing the same as telling lies?

Lots of people thought that saying nothing was the same as telling bad lies if:

  • someone else could be hurt (if someone is being bullied for example)
  • telling tales on otherssomeone else got into trouble when it was your fault
  • someone was not safe (like they had done something wrong or foolish and would do it again if they thought they would not be found out, eg. stealing, taking drugs, taking a bad risk)
  • someone was being hurt or touched in a yukky way and the person doing the bad thing said not to tell anyone.

When you are a little kid you use your imagination a lot and don't always know what is true and what isn't.

feelingsAs you get older you learn the difference between what is true and what isn't.

As you become a 'nearly teenager' you want to have more privacy in your life and in your thoughts. You may feel that you are more grown up and able to take care of yourself, but your parents may sometimes seem to treat you like a little kid. So sometimes you just say nothing and hope you won't have to answer a direct question.
 

What do your parents/carers need to know?

  • Who your friends are.
  • friendsWhere you are in your free time.
  • Homework done?
  • How you are doing at school, (behaviour and work).
  • What you are eating.
  • What TV programs and movies you watch.
  • How you and your friends behave when you're outside.

Parents have a responsibility for you and they care about you. They need to know that you are safe and caring for yourself. You need to be honest and admit when you have made a mistake, accept the consequences and learn from the experience. You are part of a family for ever so you need to be able to trust and support each other.

Look at this picture.

telling lies


Sometimes 'only joking' can be dangerous can't it? If someone is always joking, how do you know when they're serious? Would you trust or believe someone who did not tell you the truth?

 


How some lies can affect all of us

Some people think that telling lies to friends and family is bad, but that it doesn't matter if you tell lies or hide the truth from big organisations, big stores or the Government.

After all (they say) who gets hurt if:

  • the check-out operator in a big store gives people too much change and they don't tell him or her?
  • some people lie about their age to get cheaper tickets?
  • some people pretend that they've lost more than they really have, when they are making an insurance claim?
  • some people pretend that they are sick and take a day off to do what they want to do?
  • some people get money from the Government because they have no work (and they really do have work)?
  • some people tell lies and don't pay as much tax as they should do?
  • some people don't pay their fare on the train or bus?

So, what could happen?

See if you can work out what could be the result. Which 'answer' fits with which question?

  • Store prices go up.
  • Ticket prices go up.
  • Transport fares go up.
  • Insurance prices go up.
  • Taxes go up.
  • Worker insurance goes up.
  • People have to work harder

 Did you work it out?

So, who gets hurt? That's right. Everyone else has to pay when some people tell those kind of lies.

Do you know the story about Pinnochio, the wooden puppet who would become a real boy if he learned how to be a good puppet?

Every time he told a lie his nose grew.
telling lies

That doesn't happen in real life, but we all have a conscience. It's not like Jiminy Cricket, (Pinnochio's conscience) but it is like a small voice inside us all, telling us if we are being truthful and honest.

This is what some children said about telling lies

"If I tell a lie I normally get into trouble."

"Whoever tells the lie feels sad later on. Whoever was told the lie feels sad too."

"My worst lie was when I pretended to run away. My brothers were all out looking for me and everyone was upset."

"When a lie is told people feel very upset. They feel like their friends don't like them any more."

"The worst lie I ever heard was when my sister told everyone that I had drowned."

Dr Kate says:

Dr Kate
If we all listened to our consciences the world would be a place where people could trust and respect each other.

No one would get hurt by other people's lies and that would be good, wouldn't it?
 

telling lies

A hairy tale?

I didn't eat the biscuit,
A spider ate it all.
It was a great big hairy one
As big as my red ball.
It dangled from the ceiling
And swung onto the shelf.
It opened up the biscuit tin
And…ok I ate it myself.
But there really was a spider
Not quite like what I said.
In fact it really was quite small.
But its eyes were huge and red!

BH
Mum, mum, Hey, Hey!
I can't go to school today.
My head feels sore,
I got hit by an apple core.
My tongue is falling apart.
I've been stabbed by a dart.
If I get up I'll fall.
My brain hurts worst of all.
I think I'm dying
OK I confess, I'm lying.

By Adam
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.

 

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