But your child may have no idea that she has done anything wrong. At this age, your child cannot always distinguish between the truth and a lie. Anger and punishment will confuse and frighten her.

Preschoolers have trouble telling the difference between truth and lies because:

• They have active imaginations. This is often called the “age of fantasy.” Your child may simply be telling you what she wishes was true. She is not really lying. She is pretending.

• They think they are telling you what you want to hear. “I didn’t paint on the wall.” Your child does not understand the concept that you would rather have the truth, even if you are not happy about what occurred.

Teach your child to be truthful by:

• Being truthful yourself. Be honest with your child and with other people. If your child hears adults telling lies, she will think that is what she should do, too.

• Telling her you need to hear the truth. If you know your child has lied, be matter-of-fact. “That is not what really happened. You did not tell me the truth about what you did. Please tell me the the real story.” Be gentle with your child. You want to send the message that she can always come to you with the truth.


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