Preschool Fibbing: Are They Lying Or Just Storytelling?
As your child starts mastering language at about the age of three or four, you're going to notice a troubling problem: they like to tell a lot of stories. You are having an increasingly hard time believing anything they are saying, and are a little worried about it. However, there's a chance that they aren't actually lying, but engaging in what is known as "fantasy play." Knowing the difference between the two is crucial.
Are They Lying Or Engaging In Fantasy Play?
Young children have a very flexible understanding of reality and fantasy. It is why children often tell stories, but it's important to understand the difference between a lie and fantasy play. A lie is typically told to gain something, such as to avoid a bath or punishment. It is usually grounded in reality and may even be believable.
Fantasy play is usually pretty exaggerated and obviously a fantastic story. For example, your child might tell you that they found dinosaur bones out in the backyard. In this instance, they are obviously not telling you the truth. But unlike a lie, they aren't trying to gain anything or deceive you. They are just making up a fantastic situation to express their creativity.
Encourage Fantasy Play
If you believe your child is engaging in fantasy play, don't stop them from exploring their imagination. Fantasy play is an important way for children to explore their understanding of the world, engage in creative language skills, and become more creative people. It's a major part of growing up, and clamping down on it can hamper their progress. Encourage fantasy play by:
- Listening to their stories and engaging with them
- Coming up with your own fun spins on their stories
- Playing along with them when they come up with wild fantasy scenarios
- Writing down their stories and illustrating them
The latter point is particularly fun for children, as it creates a small book that they can hold on to for years and show to friends and family later down the road. However, if your child isn't engaging in fantasy play, but actively lying, you need to learn how to discourage it.
Discourage The Lying
Lying preschoolers can be hard to stop, as they are often trying to get something they want or trying to stay out of trouble. However, they often have no real reason for lying and can be discouraged by following a few simple procedures:
- Immediately stop your child when you think they are lying and ask them to re-tell the story, emphasizing the facts that they know and understand.
- Calmly remind any children with impulse-control problems to slow down for a minute, think about what they have to say, and avoid just saying whatever comes to mind.
- Choose your battles wisely and discipline them if you catch them in a big lie: this helps discourage continued fibs.
- Discuss honesty by reading children books and stories that focus on these lessons, and by being honest in your own life.
By separating fantasy play and lying, you can raise an honest and creative child that will go far in life. You might go through a rough period of adjusting your child in this way, but it'll be worth it in the end. For more tips, contact a company like Small World Early Learning & Development Center.