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Why does my nephew tell lies?

Q: My seven-year old nephew has been telling stories that are not true. These are very elaborate stories with details that could be harmful to people if told to the wrong person. I think there is a line between a lie and a detailed story that is told with a straight face. How can I get him to stop telling these stories?

A:The situation you describe is interesting, but I do not have enough details from you to answer the question. In real life, nothing happens in a vacuum. What do his parents think of this behaviour? Have they taken any action at all? How come they have left the matter to an uncle? You are right that fantasy (imaginary stories) can be different from telling lies. But one should find out why it is satisfying for the child to make up elaborate stories. Does he read a lot or are stories told to him? Does he know the difference from actual happenings and his versions? Does he become the centre of attention when he tells a story? If there is a Psychologist or Counsellor in your area, the child's parents could consult one. The child is probably very bright, and it should be possible to make him understand the difference between relating an actual event and an imaginary one. This would need patience, trust and affection, but it can be done.


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