Honesty's the best: Five tips for teaching your child honesty

Children will say anything to get themselves out of trouble. Whether they pushed down their brother or sister, colored on the walls or even ate handfuls of red sprinkles, if they sense trouble, they will do and say all they can to avoid punishment.

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  • Children will say anything to get themselves out of trouble. Whether they pushed down their brother or sister, colored on the walls or even ate handfuls of red sprinkles, if they sense trouble, they will do and say all they can to avoid punishment.

  • Honesty is being truthful. It is about gaining others’ trust and letting them know when you have made a mistake or done something wrong. Children are young and they do not understand the importance of being honest. However, if this principle is not taught, it can have lasting consequences.

  • Below are five simple tips that you can apply in your home to teach the importance of honesty and trust to children of all ages.

  • Praise honesty

  • You may be surprised when your son or daughter confesses to sneaking a cookie out of the cookie jar or ripping all of the pages out of their picture books. When these confessions occur, praise them. Thank them for letting you know what really happened.

  • Also, if you praise your child for doing what is right, he or she will remember those emotions and do whatever it takes to get those feelings back. You don’t have to hold an extravagant event to thank them for telling the truth. Just acknowledge it, let them know you appreciate it and you love them. They understand those feelings.

  • Provide consequences

  • If you catch your child in a lie, don’t let it slide by. Let them know that they did something wrong by providing consequences. If they know they are in the wrong and they get away with it once, they will keep trying to get away with bad behavior. Put a stop to it at the very beginning. Many children are sneaky. Don’t let them sneak by you.

  • Don’t ask questions that encourage lies

  • If you catch your child in a lie, do not continuously ask questions that encourages more lying. One aspect of honesty is to be straightforward and truthful. It is OK to ask a few questions to discover the truth, but if your child continues with one lie after another, tell him or her that you know they are being dishonest. Use this as an important teaching moment and explain to your child how you know about the lie. If you keep asking questions, once again your child might tell more lies to get away with the deceitful behavior and you may encounter a serious problem in the future.

  • Teach them while they are young

  • Don’t wait until your children are older to teach them the importance of honesty. Children may begin lying as soon as they can string sentences together and by waiting, you encourage and teach poor habits. Use everyday moments and activities to stress the importance of honesty. By putting forth the effort when your children are young, you can save yourself a lot of time and stress in teaching about honesty when they become older.

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  • Be an example

  • Children learn the most from their parents. They copy their actions, words, movements and more. By setting an example and being an honest person, your children will recognize that it is an important principle to you. If children recognize that something is important to their parents, they will strive to apply it into their own lives. It is important to them to receive any praise, recognition, acknowledgement and love from those they look up to the most.

  • Teaching a child the importance of being honest and trustworthy is no easy task. He or she may be cute while telling you a lie, just as a little boy covered with sprinkles tells his mom he hasn’t eaten a treat. But, you can’t let that cute face always get his way. Remember, honesty is a trait that affects every relationship an individual will have and it requires much parenting attention.

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Courtnie is an editor for FamilyShare.com and has a degree in journalism. She has a slight obsession with running, newspapers and large fuzzy blankets. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons.

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