During this period, a child’s stories may take on the characteristics of a tall tale. The child will claim to have accomplished an incredible feat - she rode her tricycle a million miles. If challenged, she may indignantly proclaim that it is not just a story, it is true. There is usually no harm in just acknowledging the story and letting it to at that. At times you might gently interject some reality – it may not have been a million miles on the trike, but it was farther than yesterday. This lets her know you understand her tale and that you take it for what it is worth.
Sometimes, however, your child may tell what you consider to be an outright lie. Here again, you will often need to exercise restraint. ‘‘Lie’’ is too wrong a word for the transparent fibs that small child tells. Children generally fib only to protect themselves from punishments and, since the line between fantasy and reality is so easily blurred, your child may actually believe she was not at fault. In dealing with his type of behavior, it is usually more constructive to forgo punishment and instead to talk with the child, emphasizing your appreciation for honesty. In this way you will teach her that she has little to fear in taking responsibility for her actions.