Most parents lie to kids to change their behaviour: study
Most parents lie to their kids as a strategic tactic to change their behaviour, a new study has found.
The most frequent example of the research on US and Chinese families was parents threatening to leave children alone in public unless they behaved.
Strategies ranged from invoking the support of the tooth fairy to telling children they would go blind unless they ate particular vegetables, 'BBC News' reported.
"That was beautiful piano playing," was another strategic example of lying.
The study based on interviews with about 200 families, examined the use of "instrumental lying" and found that such tactically-deployed falsehoods were used by an overwhelming majority of parents in both the US and China.
The most commonly used lie - popular with families of both the country's - was when parents pretend to a child that they were going to walk away and leave them on his or her tantrum.
"The pervasiveness of this lie may relate to the universality of the challenge parents face in trying to leave a place against their child's wishes," said researchers.
Another lie that was common in both countries was the "false promise to buy a requested toy at some indefinite time in the future".
There were "untrue statements related to misbehaviour", which included: "If you don't behave, I will call the police", and: "If you don't quiet down and start behaving, the lady over there will be angry with you".
If these seem rather unheroic examples of parenting by proxy threat, there are some more startling lies recorded.
Under the category of "Untrue statements related to leaving or staying" a parent was recorded as saying:
"If you don't follow me, a kidnapper will come to kidnap you while I'm gone."
There were also lies motivated by protecting a child's feelings - labelled as "Untrue statements related to positive feelings."
This included the optimistic: "Your pet went to live on your uncle's farm where he will have more space to run around."
A rather self-serving untruth was used for a quick getaway from a toy shop: "I did not bring money with me today. We can come back another day."
The study found no clear difference between the lies used by mothers and fathers, according to researchers from the University of California San Diego in the US, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua in China and the University of Toronto, Canada.
Although levels of such "instrumental lying" were high in both countries, they were highest in China.