September 23, 2018
Your child has drawn all over the floor and when you ask if they did it they deny it. Or when you ask them what they did at daycare they tell you a story that just doesn’t seem plausible. How as a parent do you handle this in the best way?
First it’s important to understand that very little kids don’t exactly lie. “To lie, children have to know that what they are saying is false — they have to understand the difference between a lie and the truth. That usually doesn’t happen before the age of four,” says Debbie Nystrom, manager at the Mothercraft Brookfield Place, Centre for Early Development in Toronto.
Later in the preschool years, a child’s imagination is developing, and he starts to explore with his thoughts and may begin to make up stories. “Preschoolers may mix make-believe and reality — they combine stories, putting something they saw on TV together with an event that really did happen,” says Nystrom.
An older preschooler may lie to get some advantage or to protect himself against unwanted consequences, such as having a toy taken away. As much as we dislike lying, “it’s all part of natural, normal growth and development,” says Nystrom.
What to do
• React in a calm tone and approach the situation as a teaching opportunity. You might say, “I’m pretty sure that’s not what happened — do you think it happened that way?” If the lie is hurtful, you could try saying, ‘How would you feel if someone said that to you?’”
• Focus on fixing the problem together. Suppose your preschooler draws on the floor; you might say, ‘We draw on paper. Now come help Daddy so we can clean it up together.”
• Explain why the truth is important. If the lie puts your child at risk (maybe he’s hidden your sewing shears or plugged in the hair dryer), make sure he understands that telling the truth helps you keep him safe.
• Make a practice of negotiating some choices with your child so he knows he has a say in what he eats, wears, plays with. Then he doesn’t have to make up a story to do it his way.
Here at Discovery Point daycare, we approach child care in a nurturing and caring way, so every child learns empathy, safety and social skills.
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