When small children start telling fibs, parents might react with amusement -- at first. But, if you find you can no longer rely on your little one to be truthful, it's probably time to take action. It's best to keep the activities fun and interesting while you try to teach your youngster to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and help her understand why truth-telling is the better choice to make.
There are several games to play with your little one that will help her distinguish between truth and lies. Tell her you're going to say three things -- two will be true and one will not. Her job is to spot the lie. Use simple statements like, "I love eating tomatoes" or "I love the way flowers smell" and "I love eating mud pies." Then let her have a turn making up the statements. Play another game where you give a true or false statement about objects in the room. You child has to tell you if it's true or false and then produce evidence to prove it. For example, if you said, "Teddy is wearing blue pants today," she will bring you the teddy bear to show you his pants are blue.
Tell your little one some stories or read her storybooks that deal with honesty or the telling of lies. These books usually have moral endings where the character learns his lesson and realizes that truthfulness is better in the long run. The story of the boy who cried wolf is a great way to introduce the idea that once lies are told, your credibility is in jeopardy. You can also use the pictures in these books to play a true or not-true game. Tell her something about the picture and have her identify the truthfulness of what you've said. For example, if there's a picture of a cat in a tree, you might make up something silly such as, "See the cat hiding under the bush."
Watch TV and movies with your child and discuss what you're seeing. Hit the pause button, if possible, to ask your little tyke to take a guess at what might happen next or to probe a character's motivation for telling lies by asking, "Why did he say that?" or "What does he think will happen if he tells the truth?" Pinocchio is a great story to introduce the concept of consequences to lying. Highlight the moral lesson in everything you watch. Ask your child questions at the end to review the moral lessons the characters learned. Ask her what she would have done in the same situation. Don't be surprised, though, if she gives you the answer you want to hear and then tells you a lie later in the day.
Use the world around you to find teachable moments for your child to learn the value of truthfulness . Although there's no way your toddler is ready to discuss some of the more salacious headlines from the daily papers, she can understand why her older brother was sent to his room after he lied to you about something naughty he did. Turn it into a "What If? or "Question-and-Answer" game by asking a set of two or three of the same questions every time an opportunity presents itself. For example, if her little friend lies about breaking a toy during a play date, say, "Let's play the 'What If' game right now," and ask her to tell you what she thinks might have happened if her friend had told the truth. Embellish and extend the situation by exaggerating the details. Say,"What if Lucy would have broken the television? broken our car? broken the whole house?" Create silly scenarios to make the activity humorous while your child learns a serious lesson.
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