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Teaching Your Children Honesty | Stories and Books about Honesty

Updated on October 18, 2012

Children learn from examples, and given the examples of dishonesty they encounter every day in the world around them, teaching a child about honesty can be a challenging task. A parent can only effectively teach or guide a child if he or she has worked on developing an open, honest and close relationship with their children, constantly getting feedback about the child’s behaviour. Only then, the parents can exert powerful influence on the child and teaching honesty bears desired results. Below are some guidelines on how to teach your child honesty.

1. Be Honest with your children

Before teaching honesty emerges as an issue in the household, it helps if the parent is setting the example from the start – be an honest parent to your children. Show the child how being honest brings less trouble than otherwise. Never let them hear you tell little “convenient lie” on the phone and never ask them to tell one for you, like “My mommy isn’t home”. When they ask questions, answer truthfully unless it is a question that is off-limits. In that case, honestly tell them why you cannot answer it.

2. Give praise and the opportunity to “start over”

Don’t be too quick to reprimand children in lie. Instead, try to catch them telling the truth and praise them for it. If they do begin to tell a lie, interrupt them and say, “Wait, think for a minute. Remember it always work out better to tell the truth.” Then, let them start over.

3. Show them the Consequences

Show the children the cause-and-effect of honesty and dishonesty. Read a story, watch a movie, and talk about a situation in real life where a dishonest act was performed. Discuss with them the consequences to both the party that lied and the party that has been lied to. Talk to them about how one lie leads to another lie, and how the liars feel about themselves. Also talk about the positive consequences such as inner peace, confidence and self-respect gained by the honest individual.


Story Books about Honesty and Other Values

The Children's Book of Virtues

I adored this book.  There are classic stories and poems that teach a series of moral values, such as the Honest Woodman and St. George and the Dragon, beautifully illustrated with colourfully drawn paintings.  Each story starts with a brief description of the lesson that should be learned. Before my son can read, he liked me to read them aloud to him again and again. It's a great one to own.  I also read the poems to my son until he can memorize some of them. It's a classic.


The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories

In this book, William J. Bennett carefully collected hundreds of stories that will help children understand and develop character, and help adult to teach them.  This book has brought so much pleasure to me as it did to my son.   Complete with instructive, introductions and notes, this book is a great book which the whole family can read and enjoy, and learn from, together.

Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big

This comic strip book is kid’s favourite! Fudwupper's big brother, "Edwurd", is the biggest liar alive. One day, one of his lies goes so far and so fantastic that it sends everyone, including a dogcatcher, the air force and an upset creature from "just two galaxies down" – into a panic. Has the damage been done? Will Edwurd face the punishment? Read the book, and find out. The wonderful illustrations and text in the book make a laugh-out-loud story for kids and adults.


Some of the great stories about Honesty available online

George Washington and The Cherry Tree

George Washington chopped down his father’s favourite cherry tree when he was 6 years old. His father reacted positively to his honest behaviour. Read more...

The Magic Coins

There was once a rich and kindly old man who, reaching the end of his days, decided to leave his possessions to some honest and intelligent young man. Speaking of this decision, he told a good friend that he wanted to choose wisely. The friend advised him,

“The next time you sell something, and are giving the customer their change, make sure you give them too much. The customer who returns the extra money to you, you will know that they are honest”. Read more...


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