Survey: Should we believe children?

Let them tell "n ' no matter what "or deny the evidence with candid eyes, children need the lie to build themselves. It's up to us adults not to take their first word and learn to really listen to them.

Christilla Pellé-Douël

I was 7 or 8 years old. At the beginning, my friends ask me where I spent my holidays. I do not know what took me, I replied "Istanbul" while I went to Brittany. They started to ask me a lot of questions, and I started to invent a lot of very realistic stuff, a whole world: the "chawana", specialty of meatballs with tomato sauce, beautiful beaches ... There, they were amazed, and I, I plunged into my story, I added. "

Michel is now 57, but his lie, he remembers it as if it were yesterday: for a few weeks his history of Istanbul allowed him to exist more, to hide the shame he had of a family that did not suit him because the lie has a function, it responds to a psychological need of the child.

Blurred boundaries

All psychologists agree not to use the term "lie" about stories of young children. " We can not speak of a lie, explains Maurice Berger ( Therapeutic work with the family , Dunod, 2003), child psychiatrist, head of department at the University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, that when a child is able to do the same, difference between reality and its desires, and when it sees itself thinking and knows that the word it addresses to others is false. So you have to have a personality built to be able to lie. "

For Danielle Dalloz, psychoanalyst, this awareness of the clear border between the imaginary and reality does not appear fully until 6 or 7. years ago, the maturation the cerebral area that distinguishes reality from fiction (the prefrontal cortex) is not complete, which explains why the youngest believe they have lived "in real" what they dreamed. The little child "lies", recalls Daniel Bailly, child psychiatrist at Sainte-Marguerite Hospital in Marseille ( The fear of separation, from childhood to adulthood , Odile Jacob, 2005), and that's part of its development process. He experiences his bond with the adult, and he needs to experience the consequences of his lie. "

Vehicle, instrument of his thought, the word offers him then a formidable means of taking on the world To interpret it, but also to model it, to exercise its power, to test its limits, those of its entourage.This is the time of the "magic thought", of the game. Everything is possible at this age, adds Danielle Dalloz. The child draws from the source of his desires; the laws of reality no longer exist."It's Peter Pan's" imaginary land. "It's also little Eva, 5, who stands on the table, fiercely denying," I'm not standing on the table, I'm on my feet! "All the interest for the child consists in being able to invent the world, to recreate it, but also to" break "it when it decides it or when it finally comes up against reality, that is to say consequences of his fabrications, be it the disbelief of his parents, the laughter of his friends or the reprimands of those around him.

The desire to please

But it is not because the child realizes that he does not say the reality (if not the truth, more moral concept) that he will not continue the use of the lie ... On the contrary, the recreation of the real will allow him to defend himself, to protect himself. first, to keep what is most important to him: the love of his parents or the adults who care for him. " Children need to be brave in front of their parents, "Danielle Dalloz explains, because by lying, they tend to stick to the desire of adults, or more precisely, says Daniel Bailly," to what they think we expect them. This has to do with the desire to please. "

There is of course also the need to avoid the punishment that accompanies the discovery of the transgression.This is the story of Nicholas, 11, who fiercely denies having smoked while projecting a breath of old gypsy smoker, or that of Jonas, 12, clumsily imitating the maternal signature in his notebook, and telling, in tears, to have been too afraid that his mother would carry out the threatening to send her to a boarding house if her results did not improve.Nothing more natural and constructive, therefore, than lying.Where skidding becomes possible, it is when the rant, this epic, typically childish story, which allows to play the proud-to-arm, is pushed to the extreme, the child then locking himself in a system from which he can not go out.


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