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What to do when your child tells tall-tales, fibs, and lies

There is a positive and helpful way to help your child learn to tell the truth.

What to do when your child tells tall-tales, fibs, and lies

Children will lie, tell fibs, stretch a tale and tattle-tale—it’s actually a sign of intelligence. Nevertheless, lying is sometimes inappropriate and as parents it can be difficult to deal with lies.


When our children lie, it can lead to feelings of frustration, doubt, anger, confusion or even shame. Once the lie is out there, it can be difficult to know how to proceed.

To help children learn the value of honesty and integrity, aside from modeling these very values in daily interactions, it is also helpful to understand the different types of lies, why children lie and what reactions can be helpful or hurtful.

Not all lies are created equal

Lies can come in many shapes and forms—fantasy, wishful thinking, a way to deal with hurt feelings, or the hopes of avoiding consequences and punishment.

What they all have in common is the fact that lies are words strung together to create a reality in your child’s mind and world. Children are not always lying to be deceitful, dishonest or bad. Recognizing the type of lie your child is telling can be a really powerful window into your child’s world and give you the very tools to best deal with the situation at hand.

Children lie as a means of exploring fantasy and their imagination

“I just saw a hippopotamus cross the street and put on a purple hat and blue sneakers” or “There is a space alien living inside my closet and he likes to eat pizza and chips.” These lies are fantasies, stories, imaginative play at its very best! These types of lies are commonly told by preschoolers and are an exploration of reality and fantasy.

What to do: These lies can be left alone or simply used to fuel an imaginative conversation. Asking questions like “And what else does the alien like to eat?” or “Did the hippo also have socks on?” Show your child that you are interested in their world and help them develop their imagination.

What to Avoid: Try not to tell your child they are being ridiculous or silly and avoid phrases like, “There is no such thing, quit lying” as it can crush their creativity and these fibs are actually very healthy expressions of play.

Children tell lies as expressions of wishful thinking

“At my friend’s house, their mom said I can have 10 pieces of candy and don’t need to brush my teeth.” Such lies are reflections of what a child is wishing for, basically an alternate reality where the child’s ideas and will is in charge.

What to do: Acknowledge the ideas behind the lies while also offering alternatives that are empathetic and reflect your values.

In this case it might sounds like, “Oh 10 pieces of candy would be delicious and tooth brushing can take a while. It’s just not healthy for you, I care about you and your teeth. How about two pieces of candy and we can sing a song while we brush teeth?”

or

“Ten pieces of candy—that sure would be a lot to eat at once, in our family we try to eat only the very healthiest of foods, so how about this piece of fruit leather as a treat instead?”

It’s perfectly okay to stick to your values and set a limit. What is important is to recognize your child’s wishes and communicate that so he knows you are listening.

What to avoid: Try not to lecture or tell your child their wishes are unimportant. Unless you suspect that a lie pertains to some serious matter like injury or damage to property, avoid threatening to check up with the other person in the story, in this case, the other mom.

Lying to avoid punishment and or consequences

Often children will lie to get their way, to make sure the outcome is to their favor or most commonly to avoid being punished. “I found that vase already broken when I came into the room,” for example.

A common sign that the story offered is a lie is that it goes on and on without any prompting. “I suppose the wind from that window over there could have knocked it down, I actually went ahead and closed it up and drew the curtains shut to avoid anything else getting knocked down…”

What to avoid when your child tells a lie

Calling your child a liar or demanding the truth and immediately punishing is likely to teach your child to just be sneakier the next time around. Avoid phrases like, “Stop being a liar and tell me what happened….” or, “Tell me why you did this right now and then you are grounded until tomorrow.”

That approach creates a very negative cycle of communication. It’s likely that your child will tell more lies to avoid any kind of punishment.

There is a more positive and helpful way to help your child learn to tell the truth.

What to do when you know your child has told a lie

If you know that your child is lying and they have acted in a way that has broken, destroyed or otherwise harmed something or someone it can be really beneficial to just listen at first.

Ask in a sincere way, “What can you tell me about this broken vase?” to start a dialogue. If you have encouraged your child to tell the truth in the past it is likely that they will once again cooperate with you.

If you have used punishment in the past, it’s never too late to look at positive alternatives. Go ahead and explain to your child that you value and welcome honesty. Make it even more clear that you will not be punishing your child for telling the truth, even if they admit to having done something wrong.

The next step is to follow-through with your words (otherwise it would be modeling how to lie) and find an appropriate solution with your child. How can you help your child repair the situation? Can your child fix or replace the broken item? How can you encourage your child to make amends for telling a lie and to whoever may have been hurt by the lie?

Trust your child’s ability to learn the value of honesty, problem solving and to do better next time.

Originally published by Ariadne Brill on positiveparentingconnection.net.

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

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From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

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Detective set

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Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

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Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

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Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

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Mini golf set

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Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

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Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

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Wooden rocking pegasus

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Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

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Croquet set

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The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

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Wooden digital camera

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Wooden bulldozer toy

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Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

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Pull-along hippo

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There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

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Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

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We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

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