At around the age of two years and a half, children's self-expression abilities grow stronger, and parents might notice that their child starts to make up stories or talk about untrue things. Parents, then, are usually filled with worry that might be mixed with a bit of disappointment. But are these feelings justified? Can a child who has a fluctuating relationship with reality tell a 'lie'? Does it make sense to punish a child for bending the truth even when they don't recognize that what they're doing is wrong?
Psychologists state that a child younger than six years old doesn't yet have the consciousness to realize that telling lies is a bad thing, and most of the time lies are not told deliberately. It is natural that your child at the age of two or three denies some of their actions to get something done. During their third year and well into their fifth, children live a vivid world of fantasies that is full of imaginary friends. After the sixth year, they start to understand the difference between lies and the truth, so their motives for lying will start to change. Your child might lie out of fear, self-defense, or to simply to compensate for an inferiority they are dealing with. Children also lie when they see their parents lying and getting away with it.
In this article we are having a glimpse into how to address the issue of lying for children who are younger than six years old.
If your child is under two or three years of age, it is very natural that they mix between some events or places, for they don't yet have enough ability to tell the difference between dreams and reality. Don't get upset when your child tells you he went on a picnic with his grandfather today while in fact he actually went two days ago. Rest assured that if dealt with properly these instances of lying won't persist after your child's mental abilities are developed.
At the age of "fantasies" and "tall tales", during your child's third and fourth years, don't insist on trying to prove that the truth is otherwise, even when he tells you that flowers in the park talked to him. Making up stories at this age is a sign your child has a creative, working mind. In this case, you can either just listen, or you can invite him to add more engaging details by asking questions like "Did you tell the flowers about mom and dad's names?" However, if these fantasies continue well into their six year, help them grow their creativity through writing stories or drawing.
Also, children, at this age, tend to lie to get what they want and avoid doing what they don't desire. They aren't yet able to label these attempts as "lies", so they won't feel guilty about telling them. It is prudent that you don't complicate the problem by punishing them.
Before redirecting any behavioral deviation, make sure that your child is aware that what they are doing is wrong. In this case, you have to cooperate with the nursery, the kindergarten, or the school your child attends in order to tackle the problem appropriately. At Little Academy Nursery, we place a high importance on having an educational psychologist whose role involves helping parents understand their child's needs and guiding them through adopting the right methods that can help handle problems to raise a child with great values.