'We'll throw you into the ocean to feed the fish': Chinese parents tell children most lies
Chinese parents lie more often to their children in an attempt to get them to behave, according to a new study.
And it's not just little white lies - it's often a frightening lie.
A study of US and Chinese parents found that Chinese participants admitted to telling more lies than American parents. These included:
- 'If you don’t behave, we will throw you into the ocean to feed the fish'
- *‘If you don’t follow me, a kidnapper will come to kidnap you while I’m gone'
- ‘Finish all your food or you’ll grow up to be short'
In most cases, a higher number of Chinese parents admitted to telling 'instrumental' lies which entice the child into doing something.
The report, published in the International Journal of Psychology, found that in both countries the practice of lying to one's children to encourage behavioural compliance was rife and most frequently took the form of falsely threatening to leave a child alone in public if he or she refused to follow the parent.
Participants in both countries completed a child lie acceptability scale that involved various child lie scenarios.
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Cross-cultural differences were also seen: a larger proportion of the parents in China reported that they employed instrumental lie-telling to promote compliance, and a larger proportion approved of this practice, as compared to the parents in the US.
When it came to telling comparison lies - for example, to avoid hurting a child's feelings - there was little difference between the two countries.
One parent who took part in the study is quoted as saying: ‘Most of the lies I’ve told my children are last resorts and out of despair. If I could get them to do what I’m asking another way, I would.’