Kid Talk Tuesday: Liar, Liar…Pants on Fire!

I bumped into Kate’s preschool teacher recently.  We exchanged the normal pleasantries… how’s your summer, vacation talk…and then I said, “I’ve got to pick your brain about 5-year old behavior.”  She nodded and was poised for interrogation.  I sighed and began, “She’s been lying  lately.  What’s that all about?” 

Her answer may surprise you.  It did me a little bit.  Want to know what it’s all about?  Creativity!! 

Sure, it sounds a little like a cop-out but there is some truth to that.  Can a non-creative person be a good liar?  I don’t know.  Sounds like that might be an empirical question!  I don’t really know of any studies off the top of my head that correlates lying and creativity, but if you stop and think about it, that makes sense.  Perhaps it’s the precursor to being a good story-teller?  Maybe Kate is destined to become a famous novelist, weaving stories of truth and fiction into tombs that will fascinate and intrigue us for generations to come.   

My husband did say that he’s come across some studies that indicate the sooner a child tells tall tales, the more intelligent they are.  Guess that all has to do with creativity and intellect colliding? 

Why else do kindergartners fib? 

  • Afraid they’ll get into trouble if you catch them
  • A way to test limits
  • To feel important
  • Wishful thinking

What’s a Parent to do?

  • Ask her to tell you a story that’s real.  “Hummm….that sounds interesting.  Can you tell me a real story about what happened today?”
  • Or try this one, “You have a really active imagination.  But I want to know what really happened.  Can you tell me about that?”
  • Avoid calling him a “liar.”  Self-fulling prophesy, right? 
  • Let her know that you’ll always find out the truth.  “Lying is hard work.  It doesn’t work.  I will find out one way or another.” 

Today, I asked Kate what happened to a decoration I keep in the bathroom (I know she’s made away with it).  Our conversation went something like this:

“Kate I’ve been looking for that bowl I keep on the bathroom vanity.  Do you know where it is?” 


“Well, if you get an idea will you let me know?”

“Sure, mom.  Promise you won’t be mad?”

“Uh, no…I won’t be mad.  I just want to know where it is.” 

I am hoping that it mysteriously makes it way back to the bathroom. 

This diaglogue served several functions: I approached Kate about the missing item (I’m on to you), I asked if she knew (she lied to me…”nope.”), I offered to let her help me find it (empowering her to have control), and then I assured her that I wouldn’t be mad (although I am a teensy bit irritated).

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