After my daughter's nap last week, I noticed a blue crayon line that ran across the top of her chair and down the leg in a wavy, deliberate pattern.
When I asked if she had colored her chair, she nervously smiled and said no. I pressed her harder and still, she denied it. Because the chair is in her bedroom and the box of crayons sits on her play table, there was no doubt in my mind that she was the culprit.
It wasn't until the fourth time I asked her and reassured her that if she told the truth, she wouldn't be punished, that she finally came clean. I explained that I was unhappy with her actions, but that I was pleased she told me the truth and told her that she would have to wash her chair herself to remove the crayon.
But, there is nagging in the back of my mind. Did I handle it right? What if she sees lying as safe? What if she becomes a habitual liar?
Victoria Talwar, professor of developmental psychology at McGill University in Montreal and a leading expert on children and lying, explains that preschool lying is actually a sign that our children are learning that they have their own thoughts, knowledge and beliefs apart from ours.
Apparently, lying is linked to intelligence. For my daughter to tell a lie, she must first recognize that there is an alternative to the truth and then try to sell me on a different version of the story.
So what should parents do? Here are three things to keep in mind when dealing with your fibbing child:
I'll keep the paper towels handy for my little artist to clean up after herself and trust that leading by example, talking with her about the importance of honesty and showing her that telling the truth is rewarded will help to set the groundwork for a lifetime of honesty.
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