“Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!”

Cami is a little liar. Or maybe, in service of avoiding labels, Cami has a tendency to lie frequently. It’s somewhat funny and I admire her creativity. But it also creates a conundrum for how to direct her creativity in more adaptive ways.

Recently, Cami had a playdate with one of her favorite little friends, Emme. I was at work, so our nanny was watching them. Cami told her little friend that we had a pet kangaroo. She told her friend this lie in all earnestness and convinced her friend it was true. When her friend wanted to see the kangaroo, Cami expressed that the kangaroo had gotten out and was lost! Oh no! They needed to go scour the neighborhood in search of the lost kangaroo! So the girls began running around the neighborhood trying to find this elusive, exotic pet. They did not tell our nanny where they were going. After the nanny had gotten Liam down for a nap, she discovered the girls were missing and were no where to be found! Our nanny ended up having to get in the car and drive around the neighborhood looking for them. Later, when Emme’s mom, Sarah, picked her up and Emme told her mom about the kangaroo, Sarah asked Emme why she believed Cami had a pet kangaroo. Emme replied, “Because Cami is my best friend and would never lie to me.”

Then, last week at parent-teacher conference, Cami’s kindergarten teacher showed me some worksheets where Cami had begun to write her name differently. Cami had told both another parent volunteer, and her teacher, that I was changing her name to Caitlin and that she wasn’t going to be Cami anymore. Not only did she tell this lie, she proceeded to act on it and tried spelling her name differently on all her homework sheets. “Keitliin.” This gave us all a pretty good chuckle.

A few months ago, I sat Cami down and tried to evaluate if she even knew what a lie is. I gave her some scenarios and asked her to tell me if it was a truth or a lie. She was able to tell the difference. I tried to transfer that into talking about how she lies. I don’t think Cami lies to be overtly deceptive. I do think she lies to get her way, sometimes, but more often than not, I think her fantasy world blurs with the real world and she doesn’t see the harm in telling fibs.

What equal parts impresses me and scares me is that Cami is able to lie with sincere earnestness. She lies easily and naturally. I often wonder how many times she lies to me and I don’t catch it? Right now, her lies are pretty benign. And, like I said, I love her imagination and admire her creativity, but we need to channel this more pro-socially before she becomes a teenager! Or else we are in BIG trouble!

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