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How to deal with a whimsical child?

Q: My daughter, aged four and half years, is very bright and analytic. Academics she is fast and perfect. But she is whimsical and anything she does is only at her will. None can convince or force her to do anything. She can narrate stories nicely and every time while narrating stories she can translate her dreams in an enjoyable form. You understand she can concoct events according to her wishes. Such things she can carry endlessly. Sometimes it appears she is lying. This puts her in trouble inside house/outside particularly in school. And as father I fail to understand what has exactly happened. After one or two days we can only have an idea of the event actually. Generally it is not that serious. As such she makes a big mess of it. Even to her mother she conceals the happening, instead she makes stories. Some people say it is lying. Please advise.

A:Sometimes, children do not have a very clear idea of the difference between reality and fantasy, that is between what they see and what they imagine. It is a little confusing for them. However, this should not be treated as telling a lie. You may have noticed that the events your child talks about are not necessarily to her benefit. For example, if a child takes a pencil that belongs to a friend and then claims that she got it as a present for a birthday from an uncle, that could be a lie. But if the child tells her friends that she had 20 friends over for an Ice Cream party, it is different from a lie. It is what is called wishful thinking. That is, the story may reflect what the child would wish could happen. We read stories to the child that describe magical things and it is quite possible that she absorbs that kind of story and makes up her own. I have known many children who do this. If the children are bright and articulate, and if they feel that they are getting the attention of the adults around by their stories of what happened, they may add to their accounts!. Without making a big issue of it, you could tell the child to let you know if what she just described REALLY happened or not. But do not use the term lying for her stories. Ask her if she made up the story. Enjoy it and laugh with her. But give even closer attention when something she actually experienced is the subject of her conversation. There is a well known episode in fiction (Uncle Toms Cabin), where a child found that when she confessed to taking something, she was praised and rewarded for owning up; that she kept on confessing to having taken things, that she had not taken at all!. Children want your time and your approval. Maybe if you consciously spend more time with her doing things together, she may realize that it is not necessary to astonish you, with a good story, to catch your attention. There are simple craft activities, like vegetable printing and making sail boats out of paper, that can be done together. According to Mme Montessori, real life has enough excitement (ants, butterflies, lizards, the evening sky for example) that very young children do not need fairy stories. Not all educators are agreed on this, but we have to suit the treatment to the child. In the Montessori system, asking the child to help with small tasks around the house is good. Even washing out handkerchiefs is a great activity for a 4 year old. Children outgrow most of these phases, but you are right to consider the matter, in order to avoid any problem. You may take some of the suggestions that I have made.


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