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When does it all begin?
Creativity is at its peak between the ages 2 to 5. Children at this age begin telling simple lies. Their language skills are just emerging and they are still learning to distinguish between reality, dreams and fantasies. However, it is important for us adults to know that children under 4 years of age are too young to understand what a lie is.
Nearing 4 years of age, most children outgrow imaginary friends and superheroes. Most of their lies are self-serving. It’s either to gain something or to merely defend themselves. Know that it’s all part of a natural, normal growth & development and they will outgrow the habit.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. It’s not a Lie; it’s a fantasy
A pre-schoolers’ lies stem from wishful thinking/fantasy. They mix make-believe and reality; they combine stories they listen to or watch, with an event that occurred in reality. To a four-or five-year-old, all the superheroes and Disney characters exist somewhere.
2. The age of truth
Your child is not lying’ at least by childhood standards. Pre-schoolers usually cannot distinguish right from wrong and fact from fiction. They don't have the same cognitive capacity as a post-kindergarten-age kid who can somewhat differentiate between right and wrong. Sense of morality begins to develop at around 8 years of age.
3. It is conveniently pleasing
A pre-schoolers’ tall tales sometimes can be just to impress friends as they know they have an audience of believers. This need to feel good/important arises when they sense that lying will please and hence they believe that’s the right thing to do and peruse with conscious fibbing.
4. Exploratory lying
If your child has figured out that he/she can draw your attention by faking, he/may continue to create stories as a way to get a response out of you. Your reaction feeds them with an approval for their accomplishment. This type of lying will pass out when you become less gullible to their lies.
5. The truth hurts
Pre-schoolers lie to defend themselves from getting into trouble. The fear of punishment or the shame of disapproval or just any negative consequence they anticipate, makes them attempt lying. This kind of lying can be prevented by building a trust with the child so he/she will be able to approach you to share any mistake they have committed.
Pre-schoolers have short memories. Their lies can be a result of forgetfulness rather than being mischievous. Sometimes it is possible that he/she is not crafting any lies and just have no memory of the event.
As parents some of us tend to get sleepless nights over a toddler’s habit of telling lies. It is important that we realise where to draw a line and talk them out of the habit (if it only seems to be growing despite their growing age). However, while doing so it is extremely important to be mindful of the means we adhere to. Rightly said by renowned child psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott, “Children are like wet cement, whatever falls on them makes an impression”, thus make the right impressions at every step and you will have nothing to worry about.