Why your child’s lies may be a sign of intelligence

Lying is a relatively common behavior in children. But it does take effort – and quick thinking! Children learn to lie as young as 2, but it’s not till they are older that they learn to lie well.

It is around 6 or 7 years when we begin to see a shift – not just in a better understanding of social rules and how to interpret them; but also in an important cognitive skill known as working memory. Working memory is the ability to remember and process information.

In my research, I wanted to explore whether how working memory is related to lying. This is an important issue as lying involves keeping multiple pieces of information in mind in order to tell a successful lie. You have to remember what you said – what you think the other person knows – and what you what to tell them (the lie). And remember what you said when you are asked about it later!

So we designed this study looking at 6 and 7 year old children. We first tested their Working Memory by asking them how many things they could remember, like the letters that were presented on a computer screen.

Then we measured lying behavior using something called the temptation resistance paradigm. The goal here was to present a situation to the children that would be tempting. We asked the children a series of questions, like “What does a dog make?” and gave them a reward for every correct answer.

The final question was about a fake cartoon – What is the name of the character in Spaceboy? But before they can answer, we leave the room and tell them not to peek at the card.

Our results revealed 2 things:

1)       Children can’t resist to temptation to peek and lie about it!

All of the children who peek lied about it when asked, as we discovered when we checked our hidden cameras.

2)       Children with good working memory tell good lies

These children were able to mask their lies by making their guesses seem plausible, like "Oh it’s is my favorite cartoon, I watch it every Saturday.” However, those with poor Working Memory would often mumble something like, “I don’t know, I just thought of it.”

What does it mean for a parent?

The good news is that lying behavior decreases, as children get older. There is less social reinforcement for lying – on the playground for example. So take heart that is your child does lie, at least they are smart

Making NY resolutions stick

Well January 1 has passed and you have made your  New Year's resolutions. If you want to be in the top 8% of people who actually keep to use resolutions then here are three things that you can do.

1. Go small!

It's the small changes that make a difference. For example if you would like to get fit the most important   decision to make every morning is "do I put on my flip-flops or tennis shoes". Putting on tennis shoes will make it more likely that you will exercise

2. Change your rewards

It’s not so much that rewards help you maintain your goal but the timing of your rewards. Psychology research shows that when rewards are received on an intermittent (unpredictable) basis – we are more likely to continue with that behavior. Rewards are also more effective than punishment, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t meet your goals.

3. Believe!

Self-efficacy, the belief that you can accomplish your goal, is a major factor in achieving your resolutions. In my own research at UNF, I found that the positive emotions we experience from doing an activity will fuel our self-efficacy. So if you are having a hard time convincing yourself that you can stick to your goal, take a moment and think about how good that activity makes you feel.

Fidget Spinners: Toy or Therapy

Fidget spinners are the new craze among students much like Pokémon Go was last summer. And while these are driving teachers crazy, some people suggest that these spinners can actually help students focus. Is there any science behind this claim?

1. Squirming and spinning are not the same thing.

To date, there are no studies investigating the potential benefits of fidget spinners on either cognitive functioning or mental health.

However one study found that students with ADHD benefit from squirming and wiggling around to help to direct your focus rather than just sitting still. Does this mean that fidget spinners are helpful for those with ADHD? The authors of the study suggest that the spinning motion could actually be more distracting as it takes attention away from what the children are focusing on. In contrast, squirming or wriggling is a full body movement which engages the brain to focus attention.

2. Spinning as a stress relief?

A review article looked at the effectiveness on different types of sensory approaches  like touch and sound and smell to destress. Unfortunately it was hard to draw clear conclusions  from the study so we don't have any proof that fidgeting maybe useful as a stress relief.

3. Moving is still the best.

If parents are classroom teachers are looking to improve academic outcomes and grades among the students exercise is still the best way to achieve this. Numerous studies showthat physical exercise are greatly beneficial  for all students, and improve attention, grades, and memory.

TAKE AWAY – As a toy, it’s better than staring at a screen. Just don’t rely on it to help your child pay attention.

Verify: Do fidget spinners alleviate ADD and ADHD symptoms?

By now we've all seen or heard of these new toys called fidget spinners. You, your kids or somebody you know most likely has one. Within the past few months, these spinning gadgets have taken the country by storm.