I'm not looking for a certain word, but rather a concept or a stage of childhood development.

Specifically, I'm wondering about that stage when children who are doing something they know they're not supposed to be doing attempt to conceal their activities. This usually results in them giving themselves away by being unusually silent.

This stage seems to require children being developed enough to know what's allowed versus disallowed and knowing they can conceal things from their parents (or attempt to).

What is this stage of early childhood development, or what are the different aspects of development that are required for this behavior?

  • Could Piaget's "pre-operational" phase be what you are looking for? Aug 8, 2015 at 19:59
  • I have no idea, I haven't heard of that phase before. I know I've read about learning right from wrong, and learning to lie, but not the specifics.
    – user11394
    Aug 8, 2015 at 20:00
  • 5
    I call it the Do-I-interrupt-to-save.things-or-do-I-enjoy-the-moment-of-quiet stage. (No matter what you do in the end, it's likely you'll regret it.)
    – sbi
    Aug 8, 2015 at 20:04
  • @PaulJohnson That doesn't seem to be it, because it's so broad (ages 2 - 7), and I'm thinking whatever I'm looking for would have a range closer to 2 - 4 years. I did find a model of developmental lying which seems to begin to answer part of the question about deception with what they call "Primary Lies". I haven't yet found information on children becoming intentionally quiet to conceal their activities.
    – user11394
    Aug 13, 2015 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


I've never really thought of it as a "stage" before but our kids had enough of a sense of what they were not suppose to be doing to get quiet when doing it around age 2-3. It's essentially at the point when they know a little about right from wrong, and they want to do what they know is wrong (such as playing with their older siblings' toys).

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