Lying…Why Tall Tales are Important!

Hi Ann

I have a situation with Elizabeth (my 4 1/2 year old) which I never ran across with Emily before. Elizabeth has been into telling very “tall tales” as of late. Sometimes I think she makes up stories because she missed out on something. (For example, a few weeks back, there was a coyote in our backyard. Emily saw it, but Elizabeth was sleeping, so she missed it.

About a week after that, Elizabeth started telling us how she woke up before everyone, went by the backyard window and saw another coyote. We know it’s not true because she wasn’t up before everyone.) Other times, they just seem to be flat out lying. On Monday she told me she was practicing karate at school. She told me a whole story of how the class was split in 2 and half went to dance class and half went to karate. They got to put on uniforms, etc. Then, when she started telling me about karate again today, I said I was going to ask her teacher about it and she started saying NO and DON’T, and was back peddling on the details of what had (or had not) happened. It’s such a regular occurrence now, that I’m not sure when to believe her. Any suggestions on how to handle this?

Dr. Ann Corwin, The Parenting Doctor AdviceWendi,
This is so very normal at 41/2, as she now “able” to “tell stories” and so she is practicing them! I’ve run out of time this week…to answer everyone but as far as “what to do about it”, basically “call her on it” just like you are doing. But, more importantly, start differenciating for her between “story telling” and reporting the truth.

Give her a reward, of your time and attention when she tells a great story and then says “that was pretend, mom”! You guys make up pretend stories too and define them as “pretend”. Then be sure to say when a story is “real”, so she can tell the difference.
Hope that helps? Call if you need to, Ann