Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tall Tales

I have a precious little man who likes to tell big stories. P is imaginative and entertaining--so this is really just an extension of his creative personality moreso than an outright moral issue. It is, however, keeping his Daddy & Mommy on our toes, as we want to nip any potential problems in the bud without overreacting to typical 4-5 year old behavior.

How do we walk the line between 'just teasing' with his big imagination and outright lying? We are working on explaining the difference and trusting God for the moment-by-moment wisdom necessary as we navigate these waters.

Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.
I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.
Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men.
Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.

Proverbs 4:10-15 (NIV)

Any tips from those of you who have walked this road before me?


Mindy said...

I so struggle with this issue in a little different way. My 7 year old will look directly at me and lie. She will make up the biggest tales and then later on she will say I was just kidding.
I also find that she is in a very silly stage at 7. Forever saying things like "there's a snake in the house." among other things -- just for the sake of it.
I struggle with it. We definately deal with things when it is an obvious lie -- especially if it is in direct response to a question she has been asked. i.e... "A did you do such and such?" and her response is "yes or no" when that is not the truthful answer.
But I struggle with the silliness. I tend to be way serious.....sometimes I think I wasn't given a silly gene and there fore I don't understand it. I have a difficult time with the silliness that seems to take up our days.....I think partly it is because she is my oldest and I tend to expect so much of her.....I'm trying to slow down and figure out if this silliness and these statements are just a phase she is going through or if they are something more.....
I don't know....Just wanted you to know I'm struggling too.
in HIM -

k and c's mom said...

OK: First grade teacher suggestion.
I have this happen in my class. I know at age 6 this is a little removed from your precious 4 year old...but I have discovered that sometimes when students go down the road of a tall tale, they don't know how to stop or back up graciously. Our "code words" when this happens in my room are "Is that real or fantasy?" (something we study in language arts.) I ask it with a smile on my face and they can "fess up" with a smile on their faces. It happens less and less as they realize that others are "on" to them. Believe me, other six year olds will call them on things, so I try to extend a graceful exit for those with active imaginations that have not yet been tempered by the real world!

Tari said...

My 6 year old has the same problem. He gets so upset when he has to "fess up" that he continues to lie and makes things worse. Now, when he starts a story that we think may be untrue, we say to him as close to the beginning as possible "is this a 'for real' story or pretend?" and sometimes "i like to hear both kinds - which is it?". This has helped him quite a lot. He's also old enough that we've had some conversations with him about how other people can come to not trust your word when they don't know if you tell the truth all the time. He was very indignant that someone would think he was lying when he wasn't, so this approach worked for him as well.

It's hard! My first child wouldn't lie for anything in the world - that is definitely not one of his stumbling blocks - so having a little blond cherub who looks you in the eye and tells you bald-faced lies was quite a shock.

I also think, like with anything, if we make a huge deal about the lies, they won't go away. We have to handle them calmly, and lavish praise on him when we know he's telling the truth (or has told us ahead of time it's a tall tale).

There's my 50 cents.

Larissa Smith said...

I'll be walking this road soon with my little one, and it makes sense to me to encourage his creativity in appropriate ways. Maybe have story-telling time when he can paint a grand word picture for you. And then practice telling stories of things that really happened to reinforce that there are times to stick to the facts, too. Also, I would say that the effects of "just teasing" decide whether it is okay or not. If he is just teasing at someone's expense or to save himself from trouble, it is wrong. If it is truly playful, that's different. For example, as someone else commented, saying there is a snake in the house is something that would potentially be true and therefore have a negative effect on someone else. Since it could be real and dangerous, it's not funny. But saying there is a unicorn in the house doesn't strike fear or require that someone verify the truth or not. It's harmless. Now, as for explaining that difference, I wish you the best!

Faith Cole said...

Another teacher suggestion: When my kindergarteners begin telling tall tales as the truth, I teach them to begin with a phrase like "Wouldn't it be great if..." or "I would love to....". That way they can still tell an extravagant story, but without it sounding like an untruth. So they can say "Wouldn't it be great if I could fly to Disney World after school today!" instead of saying it like they really did it. :)

Danielle said...

Not surprisingly, we have been dealing with this same thing with C. Sometimes, I do not even think he can differentiate between what is real or truthful and what he has imagined something to be. He wholeheartedly believes what he is telling us even though we may know it to be false or heavily embellished. I look forward to reading your comments as I seek a way to raise an honest and truthful boy without hurting the vivid and amazing imagination he possesses....