Observe in natural settings. Provide opportunities for the child to do something “wrong.”
Provide or ask the adult to bring something that is desired but off limits for the child (e.g., candy or a special item of the parents). Place the off-limits item on a table that the child can reach. Have the adult tell the child not to eat or touch it. Continue to play, leaving the item in the child’s view. Don’t stop the child if he approaches the off-limits item.
Watch to see what the child says or does after the item is picked up or eaten (e.g., “I eat it.” “My candy.” etc.). These are examples of the child sharing his actions with an adult. The child is “confessing” to his error. This is the conflict between doing what is desired versus what is known to be wrong. Basically, the child is saying, “I did it, but I told you.”
This phase of development is useful for early childhood educators and parents to encourage truthfulness. Encourage adults to reward children for their honesty in these situations instead of punishing them. Punishment will promote lying about actions. Urge adults to remind the child of what he is supposed to do, but also support him telling them what he did.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
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