Encouraging Honesty In Children

How to Encourage Honesty

Praise honesty & reward the truth 

As parents, we are often quick to scold. Sometimes we aren’t always so quick to praise. Reward honesty with praise and hugs, thank them for being honest. Use words such as, “I’m really glad you told me the truth. I like it when you’re honest.” It will build self-confidence and reinforce positive behavior.

Father surprising her son with a present

Think about their point of view

Toddlers often lie because they have trouble differentiating between reality and imagination. In a toddler’s mind, when they pick up a crayon and color on your walls, they are making you a pretty picture. When in reality, they just drew all over your walls. When confronting them you have to take in their perspective, they did not know or mean any harm.

Listen more than you talk

All children want to do is make you proud and do the right thing, you’re their biggest role model and they look to you for reassurance. We all want our children to be perfect but sometimes you need to give them the freedom to make their own mistakes. They will learn from these experiences and

Always give them the option, to tell the truth.

Confront them in a calm matter

As a parent, it is your job to teach them that this lying is not acceptable, and this needs to be taught in a positive way. Instead of saying “Who colored on the wall!” when they obviously colored on the wall, say “what a nice drawing, but you are not supposed to draw on the walls. Here help me clean this up.”

Children are more likely to admit the truth when they feel they have not disappointed you and will not be judged for it.

Never call your child a liar, negative labels can harm self-esteem and lead to a negative self-image. Also, try not to bring up past occurrences “This is the third time you’ve lied about this”. You have already had a discussion about the previous lie, there is no point in bringing it up again. Live in the present and deal with the present.

Muslim mom teaching daughter how to wear a Hijab

Set a good example

You are their biggest role model they look to you for everything, so it only makes sense that you have to be on your best behavior too. When they see you call in sick but then go to the beach, they assume that is good behavior.

A very important character trait a person can possess is keeping and following through on their promises. This is a trait everyone can value, but unfortunately, not everyone has. Trust doesn’t come naturally it has to be earned, teach your children to be people who consider their word is gold. When they give their word, they won’t break it.

Create an open conversation 

A child will feel more comfortable telling the truth if they feel comfortable with talking to you. If they feel as though they are going to be punished for what they did they will be more likely to lie.

Research has found that kids who are punished for lying are more likely to lie in the future than those kids who are guided towards the reasons why it’s important, to tell the truth. In a study involving 372 kids between 4 and 8, researchers found that kids were more likely to lie when they were threatened with being punished, and more likely to tell the truth when they thought it would make an adult happy with them. They are learning whether or not they can trust you. It takes courage and strength to tell the truth.

 

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Teaching Honesty in Children

Honesty is the best policy, as parents, we need to do our best to teach our children the importance of being honest. Although at times this may seem like a challenge, and sometimes silence is better than honesty, we must try and direct their moral compass and teach them how to be honest.

There are many reasons why children lie:

  • Fear of upsetting someone
  • To get what they want
  • To “fit in”
  • For attention
  • To make stories more interesting
  • Mimicking Parents
  • To get out of doing something they don’t want to do


How to Encourage Honesty

Praise honesty & reward the truth 

As parents, we are often quick to scold. Sometimes we aren’t always so quick to praise. Reward honesty with praise and hugs, thank them for being honest. Use words such as, “I’m really glad you told me the truth. I like it when you’re honest.” It will build self-confidence and reinforce the positive behaviour.

Father surprising her son with a present

Think about their point of view

Toddlers often lie because they have trouble differentiating between reality and imagination. In a toddler’s mind, when they pick up a crayon and colour on your walls, they are making you a pretty picture. When in reality, they just drew all over your walls. When confronting them you have to take in their perspective, they did not know or mean any harm.

Listen more than you talk

All children want to do is make you proud and do the right thing, you’re their biggest role model and they look to you for reassurance. We all want our children to be perfect but sometimes you need to give them the freedom to make their own mistakes. They will learn from these experiences and

Always give them the option, to tell the truth.

Confront them in a calm matter

As a parent, it is your job to teach them that this lying is not acceptable, and this needs to be taught in a positive way. Instead of saying “Who coloured on the wall!” when they obviously coloured on the wall, say “what a nice drawing, but you are not supposed to draw on the walls. Here help me clean this up.”

Children are more likely to admit the truth when they feel they have not disappointed you and will not be judged for it.

Never call your child a liar, negative labels can harm self-esteem and lead to a negative self-image. Also, try not to bring up past occurrences “This is the third time you’ve lied about this”. You have already had a discussion about the previous lie, there is no point in bringing it up again. Live in the present and deal with the present.

Muslim mom teaching daughter how to wear a Hijab

Set a good example

You are their biggest role model they look to you for everything, so it only makes sense that you have to be on your best behaviour too. When they see you call in sick but then go to the beach, they assume that is good behaviour.

A very important character trait a person can possess is keeping and following through on their promises. This is a trait everyone can value, but unfortunately, not everyone has. Trust doesn’t come naturally it has to be earned, teach your children to be people who consider their word is gold. When they give their word, they won’t break it.

Create an open conversation 

A child will feel more comfortable telling the truth if they feel comfortable with talking to you. If they feel as though they are going to be punished for what they did they will be more likely to lie.

Research has found that kids who are punished for lying are more likely to lie in the future than those kids who are guided towards the reasons why it’s important, to tell the truth. In a study involving 372 kids between 4 and 8, researchers found that kids were more likely to lie when they were threatened with being punished, and more likely to tell the truth when they thought it would make an adult happy with them. They are learning whether or not they can trust you. It takes courage and strength to tell the truth.



BOOKS ABOUT HONESTY

THE EMPTY POT

the-empty-potSet in China, an Emperor is looking for an heir, since he has a passion for flowers he decides that he will give the children a task to grow a flower and from that, he will choose his heir. A child named Ping who has a passion for flowers jumps for joy at this challenge. He plants his seeds and tends to his flower every day hoping it would grow. A year passes and nothing has grown he must face present the emperor an empty pot. 


THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF

CryWolf
“Nothing ever happens here,” the shepherd thinks. But the bored boy knows what would be exciting: He cries that a wolf is after his sheep, and the town’s people come running. How often can that trick work, though?

 

BETTY BUNNY DIDN’T DO IT 

betty bunny
When Betty Bunny breaks a lamp, she has a brand-new idea: Blame it on someone else (like the Tooth Fairy)! Then a vase gets broken and Betty Bunny really didn’t do it. But now no one in her family believes her. Honest lies, white lies, crying wolf—how can one four-year-old figure out the right thing to do?

BEING FRANK

Being FrankFrank follows the motto, “Honesty is the best policy.” He tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Frank never lies to his schoolmates, he always tells the truth to adults, and he’s always honest with police officers. The balancing act of finding tact, that fine line between telling the truth and telling too much truth, is the main theme of this story, and it’s very funny—although not necessarily to his friend Dotti whose freckles remind Frank of the Big Dipper, or to the teacher who hears that her breath smells like onions, or to the principal who is told that his toupee looks like a weasel. No one is quite as impressed with Frank’s honesty as he thinks they should be. He is sweet and straightforward, and, well, very frank, but with everyone annoyed at him, Frank is now honestly unhappy. He decides to visit his confidante and pal, Grandpa Ernest, who has a history of frankness himself. With a few lessons from Grandpa, Frank begins to understand that the truth is important, but so is not being hurtful. With amusing characters and expressive artwork, this story tells the powerful message of finding the good in everything—a lesson that sends compassion and understanding to take the place of rudeness in the complex concept of truth.