Why do children cook up stories?
Q: My close friend's daughter is 6 years old. She has a habit of cooking up stories. Her teacher wouldn't have asked her about anything, but she very easily tells us many things, which is totally false. I am scared if she develops the habit of saying lies. Many times we believe her, but later come to know that it was false. How to handle this situation? I tell her many stories with values but, its not working.
A:Perhaps a little closer observation about what sort of stories the child makes up will be necessary, even to arrive at any conclusion. Sometimes children tell their friends things to impress them, wanting to get the "oohs and aahs" of approval that they find others getting. It is also possible that the child is listened to more closely at home, when she comes up with a story. She finds it engaging to engage her parent's attention! At the age of six, children cannot differentiate all that clearly between reality and fantasy. We would certainly NOT use the term "lies" when a child makes up a story. But if the story is always about how clever or good she was at school, it might spring from the fear that her parents expect a lot more from her and her wishful thinking comes out as reporting on events. On the other hand, she might find the school rather ordinary and therefore make up stories on what could have happened. Whatever the reason, there is no need for alarm. But there is need for warmth and unqualified affection, so that the child's sense of security makes some of the fantasy unnecessary, from her point of view. Some children have imaginary playmates, because they wish they could have them in real life. A child's fantasy life is very rich, naturally. Schooling will soon manage to suppress it, so I see no need to precipitate the matter. More than moral stories, a light and playful way of handling her stories would work.