Storytelling vs Lying with Toddlers
Olivia Pinheiro, Parent Experience Manager at Moms on Call, shares her story of catching her toddler in a lie, and how she handled it.
After preschool pickup, conversations are interesting, to say the least. Even more so in our house with a very social toddler! Social is our little girl’s MO. She has all the scoop from each day and can’t wait to spill. Before we knew it, we had found ourselves in a bit of a parenting predicament. A place we hadn’t found ourselves before and didn’t have experience with.
Sometime before Christmas and all the holiday parties, our little one came home telling, what we now call, “stories”. She came home one day and said that they had a surprise visitor at school. “Can you guess who came, momma?” Hmm… Who was it? I thought. Did I miss a memo that came home and not send my kid in prepared for their visitor? “SANTA!” she yelled from the back seat before I could get my guess in. So I asked, “Did Santa really come to school?” to which she very matter of factly answered, “Yes!”. As I blamed myself for missing out on this special day, I second-guessed her. Did he really come to school, and we missed the memo, or is my toddler lying? What if she is lying? And why? How have we gone wrong? We don’t lie in our household, so where did this come from? This quickly became the topic in our household for days.
We soon realized this was not the truth and that Santa did not come to school. We had a discussion with her, placed her in timeout, and spoke to her again before bedtime about why we don’t lie…but she didn’t seem to understand. So, I called in the Toddler Expert! Jennifer Walker, Co-Author of Moms on Call and Toddler PRO! I called her full of emotions. Where had we gone wrong? Is this normal? What should we do? Are we supposed to punish her for something she didn’t seem to grasp and understand?
The truth is, YES, this is normal! As Jennifer explained the truth behind lies, which she beautifully does in this special podcast episode as well, she spoke the truth to my heart and gave me the confidence to do the same with my little one. Here’s the scoop: lies in toddlerhood are completely normal and, as a parent, it is our responsibility to explain the difference. A great way to do this is to explain the difference between “Story Telling” and “Lying”. Pretend play is engaging and fun; telling stories, expressing themselves, and gauging your expression in return is even more exciting for these little ones (especially the social ones). She unknowingly was looking for my excitement in her tale. So, once I sat her back down and re-explained that her Santa claim was a story, and stories can be fun and made up, while a lie is something that does have repercussions and can hurt others. We talked about honesty and the importance of telling the truth. And there hasn’t been a lie since! But you better believe the stories are never-ending!
Using the tips Jennifer shared and communication guidelines found in the Moms on Call Toddler Book, we were set up for success! Hitting a parenting milestone where we felt lost was really difficult; having the support of Jennifer and knowing I wasn’t alone in this very normal occurrence gave me the confidence to talk it out and let our little one, Audrey, express her imagination through storytelling!