I Rode a Walrus to School Today

Nearly every child tells a little fib or a whopper of a lie at some point in their growing up years. If your little one decides to attempt to deceive you, don’t panic! It is pretty normal.  There are a few reasons kids sometimes avoid the truth and they tend to evolve through various phases of development.

  • The “IT WASN’T ME” lie: This is a simple strategy to stay out of trouble and is used by nearly every age of children. I didn’t sneak the last cookie. I didn’t break the vase. I certainly didn’t pull my sister’s hair.
  • The “AVOID IT” lie: This is all about avoiding a task that is unpleasant or interrupts a child’s preferred activity. When your child she already brushed her teeth, your toddler says that he doesn’t need a diaper change or your tween claims to have no homework, you may be up against this one.
  • The “WILDLY EXCITING” lie: This is where riding a walrus to school comes in. Preschoolers and toddlers tend to have a complicated relationship with fantasy and reality. They tell stories as though they actually happened and are shocked when others don’t appreciate their beautiful imagination.
  • The “TRYING TO BE KIND” lie. My daughter once told me how much she loved the new dress I bought for her yet she never seemed to pull it out of the closet. One Sunday morning she finally came clean and confessed that she hated the dress but didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

The obvious next question becomes: What do we do about it?

  • Don’t overreact. Lies are a completely normal part of development. That doesn’t mean you have to let them happen but becoming extremely emotional won’t help.
  • Look at the big picture. Figure out why the child is lying. This sets the stage for a good conversation about truth. Take the learning opportunity to help your child grow. Some starters: “I know you don’t want to stop playing but it isn’t healthy to wear a stinky diaper so first we will change you, then you can play again.” “It is fun to tell stories about animals and adventures but it is important to start by saying that the story is for fun and didn’t happen in real life.” “I know you told me you didn’t break the vase because you didn’t want me to be upset with you or to have consequences but it is better to be honest.” “I am thankful that you have such a kind heart that you didn’t want me to feel sad about the dress but I want you to know you can always tell me the truth.” “You said you didn’t have homework on Tuesday but then I noticed that you got a zero on an assignment. Please be honest in the future. When you lie about things, it makes it hard for me to trust you. Can you tell me why you weren’t honest about that?” (This could even open a conversation about the homework being too difficult.)
  • Set a good example. When you have opportunities to be honest to and in front of your child, take advantage of the situation. Let your child see you tell the truth, even when it is difficult or inconvenient. More importantly, talk about it. If you make a mistake, talk about that too. We are teaching our children how to become healthy and honest adults.

I hope you have a great day. Honestly, I do!

Heather DeWit, Director of Childcare and Education Services

For your entertainment, I’ve got a video of my own little fibber. My youngest got into my lipstick when she was a toddler and when asked what was on her face she claimed, “nothing.” If you have a toddler that isn’t always honest, please don’t worry. My little fibber is a very honest elementary sweetie now (until the next phase that is!)

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