Young children often stretch what adult consider being truth, yet this does not mean that they are consciously lying. Children up to the age of six see the world largely as it affects them. If they are stretching the truth or telling a falsehood, it is usually because they think that what they are saying is right or will bring about positive results.
Even among four and five year olds, the kind of lying is usually without malicious intent. Still experimenting with language skills, preschoolers lie because they are learning that what they say can determine what will happen.
In teaching your youngster not to lie, you should start by getting across the idea that telling the truth is important and that lying is unpleasant consequences. Your child must come to understand the concept of truth and that it is to everyone’s benefit for her to be truthful. You might say to her that you like it when she tells you exactly what happened because then you can trust her.
Encourage your youngster to talk openly with you about what is going on in her life. Remember that she will tell you her version of reality, and help her see what is truthful about the event she is describing and what is not. You will probably have to draw the stories out and fill in some blanks for her.
The child who says that her friend has hit her is concerned only with the fact. To get the whole picture, you will need to engage her in a discussion. Eventually she will understand what really happened and review the event more freely in her own mind.
In all cases, how you handle the questioning will determine whether you encourage telling the truth or fabrication. Do not ask her if she did something when you already know that she did.
This only gives her the opportunity to lie in hope of avoiding punishments. If your youngster insists that she is innocent and you know otherwise, you will have to punish her for lying also. Tell her that she will have to go to time-out for playing.