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Why didn’t anyone tell me that preschoolers tell tall tales especially when being confronted about misbehavior?

"An active imagination is a sign if emotional health even if it leads to untruths (Touchpoints, Brazelton)"

If you have a preschool aged child than you may already know that:
  • They believe their stories to be true.
  • The line between fantasy and reality is very blurry.
  • They have very active imaginations -- If they wish it was … it is.

  • The good news is that these are all good signs that your preschool aged child is on track developmentally.
  • Tall tales and exaggerations are evidence of a rich imagination.
  • Her conscience is just emerging -- guilty feelings come after the act and only in response to the recognition that the parent is not happy.
  • Almost everything your child says is shaped by her desire to please you. When she lies, she is trying to change the situation and recreate things the way she wants them to be.

  • So believe it or not … learning to fib is actually an important step in your child’s development. It is a sign that your child has discovered that her mind and thinking are separate from yours.

    What can you do?

  • Don’t overreact or harshly punish your child. Try to calm down before you react.  Once you are calm, wonder with the child. “I see the car is broken, I wonder how that happened.”  Forcing your child to tell the truth doesn’t encourage him to take responsibility and it may cause him to tell more lies next time.
  • Think about the reason your child lied. Was it to cover up something? Does she need more attention? Was she trying to get something she wanted? Use logical consequences instead of harsh punishment. Using logical consequences for the behavior will help your child develop a conscience instead of teaching a child to behave well just out of fear of punishment.
  • Explain the consequences of lying and read stories, such as the “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” or the “Emperor’s New Clothes” to your child.
  • Model the behavior you want to see.  If you pay attention, you may be surprised to realize how many “white lies” you tell during the day.
  • For more information, click here.
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