Living in a world of fantasy

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I am interested to know whether other people's children are similar to J, who rarely says anything "true". If you ask him a question, he will tell you something that is not true as a response, when there is no reason not to tell the truth, no reason to hide it. This is beginning to irritate me and I am saying to him that if he does not tell me what is true, I will never trust anything he says. He also spins marvellous tales all the time and relates them with an entirely straight face as if he believes it. One small example that comes to mind: yesterday he suddenly started saying something like "You don't know what I do in the night. I get up when you are asleep, unlock the doors and go and stand outside with two knives..." He is generally fascinated by weapons, etc. He said this is af it was entirely true and as if I should believe it and it's typical of his conversation.

    Just being six years old? Something else? As I say, I'm interested to know of your experiences.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Malika, I actually adopted two children who are no longer with me. One is not with us by his choice as he was basically a good kids, but he got caught up in the drama of psychokid and was abused by him. He was seven years old when he came to us, exactly one year after psychokid came and suffered the same abuse from him as the other kids. I don't talk about him much because he was only with us a year and after his experience with Psycho was put in a foster home that fit him so well and that he loved so we were asked if we'd let them adopt him and we said "yes."

    He was a nice kid, kind of quiet and had had a hard time in foster home before us (serious sexual abuse by caregiver, although he wouldn't tell anyhone because "who would believe me?") He would sometimes act out, but usually was a nice boy and my other kids remember him fondly. However, he had one bad habit. He told incredible stories/lies and expected us to believe them. Example: "When you weren't with me, a big shark came out of the river (river/shark...haha) and I had to wrestle it and kill it." This type of exaggerated storytelling was nonstop and when I asked if it had really happened he'd say, "YES!"

    I don't know what it means. I never had a child who did this before. I assumed it was because his life had been so awful that he was making things up to seem like a hero, poor kid. I know that J. has had a GOOD life. Also, I never raised another child who did this. Mostly, the other kids told the truth, except to sometimes get out of trouble, or when my oldest daughter was using drugs. 35 is another story. He never made up stories, but he lied a lot and still does.

    I don't have an answer for you, but wanted to share that I did know a child who did this. In my opinion it has less to do about imagination than a desperate desire to feel important thus make up stories in which the child is a hero. I think some of the content of J's lies are troubling and indicate a problems. A fascination with weapons, unless he was around them, would bother me. This other adopted child of ours never talked about knives or guns or anything. Is there anyone J could talk to at all?

    At any rate, I know this isn't all that helpful, but wanted to share my I still don't understand. You made me curious and I'm going to go on my trusty search engine to see if it "means" anything.
  3. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Both of my boys did tell stories, maybe not to that extent (in frequency), but around J's age (mostly when 4 to 6 with easy child if I remember correctly and little longer with my always immature difficult child, which started to cause him problems in peer relationships ), there were lots of stories. Often stories they were heroes at. And they did claim them to be true. easy child did easier admit that maybe they were not completely true, but difficult child often needed some time. And if asked in the wrong way, did stick to his story. But if we listened and answered in noncommittal manner first ( I mean with 'Oh, really?', 'That sounds interesting', 'That was quite an experience, I bet' and so on) and then talked with him again about it few hours later, he did admit it was a story. Of course we often did not do that but just listened and stayed noncommittal. But at times there were things middle of the stories that we had to actually find out the truth about. With difficult child we even had to work out the concepts of 'should-be-the-truth' and 'adults'-truth'. With easy child we could even call stories either stories or him bluffing us and he didn't get angry. With difficult child we had to also warn him about telling the should-be-the-truth much to his peers when he started school because it would cause him trouble. He of course didn't take an advice and peers, who were more mature and over the storytelling phase already started to consider him a liar early on, which has been a disadvantage till these days.

    What i know kids, story telling is common and normal. Extent does vary and if you feel J doesn't often really know the difference between what happened and what is his make-a-believe or if he is doing it all the time or if it is interfering with his peer relationships, I would consider taking him to see an experienced paediatric psychiatric. For them the difference between what is normal and what is a cause for worrying is likely much more clear.

    Fascination with weapons and knives I consider also quite normal to young boys till certain extent. Both my boys and most of the other boys I know have been interested. Not all, but to me it has seemed as common as for example interest to dinosaurs in certain age is and to fishing in few years later.
  4. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    Just sharing my experience: Partner started having an imaginary brother at around 4 years old. At the time, he was not completely caught up in speech and it took me a while to really understand what he was telling us. Then, slowly, the bothers multiplied and the stories got longer and more complicated (it included death of the brothers, hunting, surviving, etc..). And one day, they just all disappeared, probably shortly after 5 years old. He really had great imagination and still does.
    At age 7, he is now a great writer and excel in writing at school. His stories are full of adventure, thrill and lots of details. Really good stuff.
    So for Partner, I believe it is a gift he had early on and slowly, as he matured, it turned into something more acceptable for society.
    Partner also hears "voices" and has at a very early age. One would say it is not normal, but now that he is older, he knows they are in his head. (no worries guys, we did see a doctor about them and it is monitored). His writing skills helps him handle his deeper fears (death, monsters, and strangers breaking in).
    My point: J's stories might very well serve a purpose you don't quite see yet.
    I would take everyone's else advice and just make short comments. You might want to also say stuff like "I can't tell you would really like that...", "it would be so cool" etc... You imply it is not real but don't really burst his bubble. Know what I mean?.
  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I don't think this is a developmental issue yet, many children live in a rich fantasy world much of the time until they're maybe 8 or 9 years old. I would monitor it and not allow his fantasy to be an excuse for breaking real world norms "I was late to school because pirates attacks while I walking there.") but allow him his rich imagination. You may be able to use this to your advantage by helping him to write down his stories so that eventually he uses his writing skills to capture his imagination.
  6. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Malika -

    Is there any way to prove that he does NOT get up after you fall asleep, grab a couple of kitchen knives and go stand outside?

    I'm not sure I'd be so quick to dismiss that as fantasy. It's entirely possible that he is "testing" to see what sort of stories you believe and don't believe. If you don't believe that he gets up in the middle of the night, then maybe he can go do something at night that he knows you would not approve of, simply because you believe that he is safely home in his bed.
  7. Confused

    Confused Guest

    Malika, Oh wow, either way thats scary enough. Keep your knives and keys where he can't reach ( I do this for my son cuz I don't trust his anger- well as babies had em up too) and the doors, he threatens all the time now to go out and leave while we are asleep. I believe in my heart he will. My son blames everyone else calling even his teachers liers. So far, he hasnt made up wild stories. But has said he called the police hen he didnt. Even when I catch him, he still lies. Very rare its the truth. I try to hide the phones cuz he dials the police for everything. Scissors, glue, all up.

    Just keep your eyes and ears out, listen to what he has to say and if his stories change. If you play along, he might continue with it. So personally I just hide everything and listen. Mine does ask why I hide the stuff and I say because its a better place and safer for everyone. I don't know, you know your child what to say and how to say it where he won't think things or go thru with anything. Hugs and keep me informed.

    ***Like DaisyFace said, is there anyway to prove it first?
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    His image of standing outside at night with knives is one I understood of protecting the house, not of something inherently dangerous. And no, good heavens, of course he doesn't really do it!! He sleeps like a log and always has - whereas I sleep fitfully and wake at the slightest noise. I would know.

    He is fascinated with weapons and always has been. From an early age he has said things like "I am not REALLY going to do it, Mummy!" when I have expressed concern about this. However he can be mildly violent with other kids, yes.

    I suspect MWM may be onto something when she talks about the need to be important, a hero. That feels right. He does also have a very vivid and creative imagination. But what made me question it is that it really does all seem real to him. It seems as real as what we call "true".
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    There is a serious difference between a wild imagination, which I had as a kid and still do, and a person who really thinks things happened that never happened. I used to make things up and I did tell wild tales to make myself look better because I felt so badly about myself. Really, I felt ugly and stupid and like a misfit so I boasted about stuff to make my peers respect me more. (I thought). I remember telling everyone my father was a doctor, which he wasn' This was at a young age, in a town that valued children who had prestigious parents and a lot of money. I may have been six. Even when the kids told me "no, you don't!" Or "My dad is a doctor and you're lying!" I would keep it up. But I really was very clear to myself...I knew it wasn't true.

    When I got into junior high and didn't have a boyfriend, I'd make up a fabulous one from a different school and told my friends all the things we did. I got very much into this as a pre-teen. I think I told tall tales all my life until I started getting caught. However, I was well aware that these were tall tales and never happened and when called in on them enough, I stopped it. Time will tell with J. I doubt he really thinks they are true. Have you asked him? I would say, "You know, J, you really don't have to tell stories like that for me to know how terrific you are."

    Again, just my .02!!! :)
  10. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, I tried quizzing him more about this standing outside the house at night with knives story this morning and he kept it up for a bit, assuring me with a straight face it was true - and then suddenly broke into a grin and started laughing. He knows it's not true. When I asked him why he had pretended it was true, he said "It's more fun"...
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    J is a kid with uneven development. Not unusual with ADHD (along with some other dxes).
    That means that part of him is immature for his age... and part of him will be older than his years.
    This is really confusing for the kid as well as for you.
    Instead of trying to get the "truth" out of him, what happens if you explore his imagery with him? What does HE see in that image? is he trying to protect you, does he feel unsafe, etc. He doesn't seem to be in distress and needing to project images to protect himself... but he may be sophisticated enough to hide from you his real reasons.
    You WERE planning on studying to be a psychiatrist, no? (lol)
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, that's right, IC. In fact the idea of him actually going out in secret in the middle of the night with knives is laughable partly because he is so "babyish" if he does ever wake at night - he will come sucking his thumb, clutching his "dodo" (security blanket thing), crying "Mummy!" and want to get into bed with me.

    It is a good idea to explore the imagery. His mind does in any case work in a very different way to the norm - he makes associations that are wild and unusual, seems to see the world in a much more brightly coloured, vivid and fantastical way than us boring ordinary ones... It's often very funny - though I see that other kids often think he is weird because of it.
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Differently wired kids have a tough time with childhood. Those who survive intact often end up making significant contributions to society - the arts, innovation etc. We NEED these people...
  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    As usual, lol, I have a slightly different position on this. It may not work for J but it did work with the only child I had that got carried away with imagination. I'll toss it in for consideration.

    I praised imagination and creativity BUT insisted that it be presented for what it was...not presented as truth. My examples of "why" included the little boy who cried wolf, the importance of having others trust your word, as well as other examples. difficult child learned to preface falsehoods with " I dreamed " or "wouldn't it be funny if" or "my imagination had me picture" etc. Of course, I encouraged drawing or writing stories and volunteered to write if difficult child wanted to dictate to me. It ended up being fun and the lesson was learned. DDD