Tall Tales by Toddlers: Ending the Lies

If you have caught your toddler telling some truly tall tales in recent weeks, you are not alone. It is very common for toddlers to lie to parents as well as others like grandparents, teachers, and friends. As a parent, this can seem rather alarming and disturbing. You may wonder if this is a sign of something more significant that may be wrong with your child.

Rest assured, however, that lying in the toddler years is actually quite common. Some toddlers lie frequently because they just don’t have a clear sense of what is reality and what is make-believe to them. Others are simply expressing their creativity by telling stories such as what they see on TV shows or what they read in books.

While this behavior is common, it is something that you will want to work on so you can help them naturally grow out of this behavior. After all, a lying three old may be cute, but it’s not so cute when that child is eight or nine years old. So just what can you do to help curb the lying?

Talk About Reality. “Reality” is a big word for a toddler, and it’s an even bigger concept to understand. While a tall tale from your toddler may be difficult for your toddler to learn this word from initially, you can start talking about reality when reading books and watching shows together. Talk about what really happened to your child today, and then talk about what happened for pretend in a book or TV show. By repeating this lesson several times, your child can start to make that greater connection between what is real and what is not.

Talk About Lying. Just as young kids don’t understand what reality is right away, they may not understand what lying is all about either. You can find instances in real life or find books about what happens when a child lies to an adult. Just consider the story of the little boy who cried wolf as one of many examples in the realm of fiction that you can use. Be sure to explain not just that lying is bad, but why it is bad. For example, in the story about the boy who cried wolf, his lying was bad because the townspeople didn’t know when he was telling the truth.

Point Out Lies. Even when these topics have been covered by you, your child may still lie from time to time. It is important to point out to your child when he or she is lying. Then go a step further and explain what might have happened if you had believed that lie or if someone else had believed it. Your child can learn that each lie has its consequences, and that often those consequences are not good.

As with many toddler behaviors, it can take some time as well as some effort on your part to help your child learn and grow. These tips can help you work on lying so that it does not continue on.

Here are a few other articles written by this author:

How Positive is Your Parenting?
Helping Your Kids Through Fights with Friends
Kids and Friend Drama: When to Step In

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