You love hearing your little one tell stories of his trips to the moon or the million chocolate bars he ate that day, however, exaggeration and hyperbole aren't always appropriate. While they might make for an exciting story, it's important to teach your child that telling the truth and saving those imaginative stories for appropriate times adds to her creditability with yourself and other adults. It's always hard to come up with ways to teach difficult concepts to your little one, but integrating a variety of activities into her routine will soon have your child reporting events accurately rather than clouded with exaggeration.
1. Reading Children's Books
Why not use your next bedtime story to teach your child an important lesson about telling the truth and not exaggerating stories? Mary Renck Jalongo, author of "Young Children and Picture Books (Second Edition)" suggests that children's books can help your child explore and understand concepts in an age-appropriate way he can understand. Choose a book that highlights hyperbole like David Jon Martin's "Eeedgar!: The Elephant Who Exaggerated" and read it before you tuck her in for the night. After you read each page, ask your child to point out one way the elephant in the story stretched the truth about the events of that day.
Since your little ball of energy likely has a short attention span, poems offer an alternative to longer stories. Read a poem to your little exaggerator that emphasizes hyperbole like Shel Silverstein's "I Cannot Go To School Today!" Ask your tiny tot to point out to the ways in which Peggy Ann McCay doesn't exactly tell the whole truth when it comes to the way she feels that day. Ask her questions like, "Why is it important to tell the truth about feeling sick?" and "Would you believe Peggy Ann if she always made up stories?" The poem you choose is irrelevant, what is important is that you use its message to show your little one how exaggeration can lead to an adult not actually believing her when a real problem arises.
If you think you have a mini-Renoir on your hands, why not put his artistic skills to good use while you also nip a bad habit of exaggerating stories? Give your child a variety of kid-friendly and non-toxic art materials like markers, crayons and construction paper. Near the end of the day, ask him to draw you two pictures, each of which show what he did earlier that day. For example, one picture should accurately represent the trip to the swimming pool and one should show him diving for treasure while he swims with sharks and fish. Talk about the difference between the two representations of the day's events and why it might be important not to exaggerate stories when telling an adult.
Does your little one love to report on the day's events? If so, hand your little newscaster a play microphone and ask her to tell you all about an event like her day at the playground or a recent family vacation. Then, ask her to retell the same event using lots of exaggeration. Teaching her the difference between truth and exaggeration for entertainment value will keep her from exaggerating stories during those times when it's not all fun and games.
- Eeedgar!: The Elephant Who Exaggerated; David Jon Martin
- Young Children and Picture Books (Second Edition); Mary Renck Jalongo
- United States Consumer Product Safety Commission: Art and Craft Safety Guide
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images