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4 YO and lying

652 Views 13 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Dreamer
HELP! My 4 yo dd just started lying. She is not very good at it...i.e. the other day she rolled the watermelon off the counter onto the floor... and then when I came running after hearing the splat, she said, "I didn't roll the watermelon onto the floor." Anyway, she is doing it quite a bit and I am not sure how to handle this. NAy suggestions?

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Mine (4.5) does too, a lot. Sometimes if I just say nothing, after a few seconds she'll correct herself and admit the real situation. She told me the other day that she turned her head around 360 degrees to look at something on her back. That is totally innocuous and I don't consider it a problem - i just said "oh really" without sounding too impressed. Often I make a joke about the issue, maybe insinuating a consequence: in this situation I might say something like well if you didn't do it, you'd better keep a look out for those watermelon rollers -- if they smash our watermelon there won't be any for us to eat. Then I'd ask for her help cleaning it up and then put the watermelon out of her reach and forget about it. I am convinced that at this age she believes what she says, or wants to so badly that she confuses reality with fantasy. In fact she has this phrase which she uses to identify lies: "the wrong truth." I think that's how she sees it - it's a truth, just the wrong one! I find in general that remaining detached more or less elicits the "right" truth from her - in everything, not just cases of lying. I mean the less I make a big deal of her "lies" the more she comes to me voluntarily with issues that trouble her, like things she did that she wishes she hadn't, or what she observed another child do that upset her, or something - in short, she trusts me to confide in me. I wouldn't worry too much about it unless it becomes an issue of safety or when it involves something serious. In those cases, I don't insist that she tell me the truth. I simply tell her that I know what really happened and that it's not okay because of xyz, etc. No reason forcing her to own up - she still gets the message. Just my experience, hope it helps.
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My 4 yo just recently started doing the same thing. I am trying to apporach it the way the pp mentioned but it is hard not to get a little bit frustrated at least on the inside
: But I just try and go with the flow....for example I asked if he put his cloths in the hamper and he said yep in that way that I knew he was lying. So I asked "are you sure" he said then I said well let's go and make sure ....and he ran ahead of me to hurry up and put it away. I wasn't doing this in any type of threating manner. I do believe that he is simply saying what he *wishes* was the truth
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I'm not sure I have any great advice about how to handle it, but I can tell you that your dd is at a developmental age where she is figuring out that she can be thinking one thing and say another. I imagine this feels very empowering to your dd so she will probably be doing this a lot. It can be frustrating, but it is completely normal. Of course you want to teach her the value of honesty. It may also make it easier to do knowing that she is not malisciously lying.

Taylor has done this a few times over the last year or so. The first time was when he blamed the dog for something he did. (Cedar took the pans out of the cupboard?) Recently it has been saying he did something he was asked to do when he hadnt. (Fed the dog.)

In the first case I was "letting it go" until the last time which was a doosy. I explained that I wasnt mad at the thing he was lying about I was disappointed that he lied. I explained what lying was and gave a two sentance synopsis of "The Little Boy Who Cryed Wolf". He hasnt told any whoppers (without quickly fessing up anyway) since and has now started coming to me to tell me what he did instad of lying about it. I do not get mad when he does tell me the truth I just help him make amends and thank him for telling the truth.

In the second case I just say "If I go look..." and he fesses up and makes amends.
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I think we will try the "If I go look..." idea. THanks for that. I am not sure that dd is language ready (English is her second language) for the Wolf story, but maybe later. THanks.

Dss went through this stage. I think it is testing you and the boundries of reality. His lies always involved his mother (hard for me to check the facts, I guess.) He'd say as we drove through downtown Santa Barbara, "I saw a cheetah there once, with my mom." His lies often involved cheetahs. He is 9 now and laughs about it. No great advice, but it passes.
We're here and doing that too.
I think it's just a phase, so I try not to make a big deal out of it.
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I tried the wolf story last night and actually had some success with it. SHe seemed to get it and was pretty into it. Thanks for that suggestion.

I don't have any real answers for you, but if it's any consolation, studies have shown that preschool-age children who lie are generally children of higher intelligence!

I know some of you are talking about the "this is the truth that I want to be real" lying, that isn't intentionally manipulative. But if you think about what a real thought-out lie is... A child (for example) does something they're not supposed to do. When asked if they did it, they:
1 - immediately anticipate the consequences of admitting their actions
2 - create an imaginary scenario that will (hopefully) result in no negative consequences
3 - relay that scenario to another person in a way that sounds plausible, sometimes by using their tone of voice, body language, etc.

That's some pretty advanced cognitive stuff going on in those little minds! I have to admit I'll be kind of proud if/when dd starts experimenting with lying. I just hope I'll have the answers for how to deal with it before it happens!
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Almost every child goes through this stage, it's completely normal. I wouldn't tell a child the cried wolf story at this point. If it's little stuff and it often is then I just went along with it and sometimes asked more questions that encouraged her imagination to explore. If it was something important that was obviously not true sometimes I just said in a silly voice something like, " now we know that didn't happen silly". That usually ended with a silly laugh on both our parts.

I wouldn't make a big deal about it at this point.
I've been watching my 4yo niece the past couple of weeks while my sister is doing her 2 week navy reserve stint. My niece is going through this phase. It's anything from denying that she tore a piece of paper to declaring that she's not going to grow up or other silly fantastical things. It's annoying and I have to hold my tongue and keep from getting into ridiculous arguments with her. I only hope that as she grows her imagination blossoms into more creative outlets than lying.

She also has a tendency to "mouth off" and speak to us the way I'm afraid she's spoken too all to often. Mostly, giving orders and expecting us to do things we don't want to do (usually things she doesn't want to do, either, that we've told her to, such as go outside and play or put on her pajamas). Spending time w/ her is very enlightening.
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With my dd, I think the wolf story is appropriate because some of her lies could end up with us not believing her at a time when we need to believe her.

I have to sya that after the story, it has gotten a lot better -- so maybe that was all she needed.

oh yeah--the wolf story is a goodie at our house...I'll tell ds who's three, and when I get finished he'll say, 'tell me again momma...bout that wolf, you know?' Gotta love em!
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