We’ve all possible encountered situations like this before. If you work in the childcare sector, you might find that sometimes when a child is caught out by a lie they have told, they will try to engineer the situation and construct a whole world of belief to alter the evidence to fit their view.
For example, if a boy John is said to have pushed another boy Tom, and Tom mentions it to someone else, when questioned John might be likely to have said things like, “But Tom started it”, “Tom pushed me first”, or something else to the same extent where he tries to impress on the interlocutor that it was not his fault. But even when the evidence points to the contrary – assuming we investigate further – John may or may not then contort the evidence to suggest that even if he did strike Tom, he might have been baited, or taunted in some form and that his actions might have been a reaction to that stimulus.
If it is a young child, we tend to impress on them the fact that lying only causes more problems. You end up digging a big hole for yourself and then the web of lies unravels.
John, in that case, might collapse under questioning and then burst into tears as a last resort if the weight of truth becomes too heavy!
However, what the misrepresenting of truth does is that it colours your dealings with others. If people realise you are not to be trusted, and it has happened before, they will be a bit more cautious about the things you say in the future. If John is found to have repeated that same sort of behaviour later, it might be that eventually he gets trusted less, and unfortunately in life, as he grows up, he may develop that reputation that tars him.
Of course, this is what child education has to involve. We have to teach children to grow out of that behaviour. But perhaps one of the ways to do that is by responsible parenting, to demonstrate to them ourselves that this sort of behaviour is not condoned. In the field of music, it has been demonstrated that if something is internalised, it has a better chance of being applied. (You can read more about this in the Piano Teacher N19 blog.) If we can consistently apply and model to our children the behaviour we want from them, we have a better chance of making them demonstrate it.