Teaching children the difference between fantasy and reality

Parenting Tips and Strategies
fantasy and reality

As an adult in a child’s life, we are confronted with teaching our little ones the difference between fantasy and reality. It’s no small task. Young children have vivid imaginations to say the least. Monsters under beds or in closets, toys that come alive at night, these are the imaginary things that can feel very real to a young child. So, how do we help them recognize the difference?

A first step might be to help him to recognize an untruth. For instance, Jimmy blames his imaginary friend for breaking a vase. Now, as a parent, we see this clearly as a lie, but Jimmy’s perception is that it is not a lie, but a way out of paying consequences. Blaming someone or something else seems reasonable to a child.

Straightforward questions about what really happened will allow Jimmy to explain in his own words. Try not to put words in his mouth. Let him know that you know what the truth is. Help him understand that by telling the truth to you, he is making a right choice. Calmly remind him that telling the truth is always the best decision. He will want to please you. This gives you a perfect opportunity to then discuss the difference between lying and being truthful. In the future, when Jimmy is caught up in another fantasy, remind him clearly that making the right choice will help him avoid unfavorable consequences.

Remember the game we played as children? “Truth or Consequences” – it’s never too early to

start playing the game…

*image courtesy of einalem / flickr Creative Commons

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