Toddlers who tell lies early on are more likely to do well later, researchers claim.
The complex brain processes involved in formulating a lie are an indicator of a child's early intelligence, they add.
A Canadian study of 1,200 children aged two to 17 suggests those who are able to lie have reached an important developmental stage.
Only a fifth of two-year-olds tested in the study were able to lie.
But at age four, 90% were capable of lying, the study found. The rate increases with age to a peak at age 12.
The director of the Institute of Child Study at Toronto University, Dr Kang Lee, said: "Parents should not be alarmed if their child tells a fib.
"Their children are not going to turn out to be pathological liars. Almost all children lie.
"It is a sign that they have reached a new developmental milestone.
"Those who have better cognitive development lie because they can cover up their tracks."
This was because they had developed the ability to carry out a complex juggling act which involves keeping the truth at the back of their brains.
He added: "They even make bankers in later life."
Dr Kang tested the children's honesty by telling them not to peek at a toy placed behind their backs while leaving the room.
He then monitored their reactions by video and returned to ask if they had turned around, checking their responses against the recording.