The Lies We Tell Our Children
The average parent will tell their child almost 3,000 little white lies as they're growing up - just to get their own way, it emerged yesterday.
Our study of 3,000 parents found that every day each mum or dad will tell at least one fib to get their offspring to comply with their wishes.
Among the classic fibs wheeled out in homes around the country are that Father Christmas only gives presents to good children, spinach gives you big muscles and sitting in front of the television for too long gives you square eyes. Others include eating crusts puts hair on your chest and that the jingle of an ice cream van signifies that it has sold out of lollies and cornets.
The study also found that a whopping 66 per cent of parents were prepared to turn to a white lie if all else had failed.
The funny thing is that most of the little white lies we tell our own children are ones that our parents told us and chances are, they came from our grandparents too. So the fables get passed automatically from each generation to the next.
The most common lie - told by 84 per cent of parents - is that Father Christmas only gives presents to good little children.
Second was that Father Christmas only visits children who go to sleep nicely on Christmas Eve - used by eight in 10.
A further 60 per cent of adults have told their children that sitting too close to the television will make their eyes go square.
And forty eight per cent of parents have convinced their offspring that eating spinach will make them strong.
Another 39 per cent said they frequently told their children not to cross their eyes - as the wind will change and they'll stay like it.
A quarter of parents have told their little ones that their private parts will drop off if they play with them too much.
20 per cent of kids have been warned that the police will arrest them if they swear.
Other little white lies include the fact that crocodiles live under the bed, and also that making silly faces will make God cross and he will freeze their faces.
Interestingly, the majority of parents polled agreed their children pretty much stopped believing everything they were told by their eighth birthday.
But the study found that until that point, youngsters absorb everything Mum and Dad say, repeating it to teachers, friends and even family members.
Eight in 10 parents said they often told little white lies to their kids to protect them from the truth, whilst 46 per cent made lies up if they didn't know the real answer to a question.
TOP TALES WE TELL OUR KIDS
1. Father Christmas only comes to good little children (84 per cent)
2. Father Christmas only visits children who go to sleep (81 per cent)
3. Sitting too close to the TV makes your eyes go square (60 per cent)
4. Spinach makes you strong (48 per cent)
5. If you cross your eyes the wind will change and they'll stay there (39 per cent)
6. An apple tree will grown in their tummies if they eat apple pips (27 per cent)
7. If children play with their privates too much, they will drop off (25 per cent)
8. The ice cream van only play music to let children know it has run out of ice cream (22 per cent)
9. Eating crusts will put hair on your chest (22 per cent)
10. The police arrest children who swear (20 per cent)
We were somewhat surprised by the fact that one of the biggest white lies of all slipped through the net - the fact that every year, some drunk fat bloke in a red suit and false beard manages to get down a chimney (or even a gas flue), complete with bicycles, wendy-houses and other large items, and completes a global distribution round, pulled by flying reindeer.