More Ideas On Helping Children Say The Truth

Some kids speak non-truths because they wish those things actually happened.

I remember a 5-year-old little boy I worked with who was busy telling his friends and teachers that he was superman, that he flew off buildings, that he was a policeman and a fireman, that he had a gun, and so forth.

Was he lying? NO! He was doing wishful thinking.

What are some strategies for these kinds of non-truths?

Strategy #1:

Validate the child that he wishes he were superman, a policeman, fireman, etc., and that it would be so cool to be able to fly off buildings and zoom across the sky! I might say something like, “Wouldn’t that be nice to be able to have a gun and shoot all the bad people? Sometimes I wish I were a policeman too!…..” Validate a lot and validate often. One comment once in a while is not enough.

Strategy #2:

Teach the child between fantasy and reality. You can create a list of things that are fantasy vs. reality. For example, on a child’s fantasy list, it might say “I am a teacher, I give out tickets, I am a giant…” On the reality list, it might say, “I am a student, I get tickets, I am 4 feet tall..”

Strategy #3:

Play the fantasy vs. reality game. In this game, the child and adult each take turns saying a 1-2 sentence story, while the other person guesses whether it is fantasy or reality. If the child guesses correctly, he gets a ticket (reward).

How do you play this game? The adult makes up some short fantastical stories (similar to what the child might be claiming is true), which the child has to guess is fantasy. Of course, the adult includes reality stories every now and then, too. The child also shares short stories and the adult has to guess whether the story is fantasy or reality. If the child agrees with the adult’s answer, the child gets a ticket. (Thus, if the adult guesses that the story is fantasy but the child insists that it’s reality, the child does not get a ticket because they disagreed.)

Super Important Reminder: Check with the parent or teacher whether the child is reporting fantasy or reality. For example, I’ve worked with kids who reported traveling to exotic places that seemed like fantastical trips, but when I contacted the parents, they told me it was true!!

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