How can you teach children to be honest?
What are some ways you use to teach children to be honest in answering direct questions? What kind of consequences do you impose for dishonesty?
Whenever someone lies, they devalue the person they are lying to as well as themselves. A lie says, "You are so worthless that I don't even have to bother to tell you the simple truth".
We never, ever, lied to our children, and in turn, never expected or tolerated a lie. This incluldes little lies, white lies, lies to save someone's feelings, parental lies. When it comes to lying, there is no size, no color - just dishonesty. This doesn't mean that you have to feel obligated to comment on everything. Silence can, indeed, be golden.
Model what you teach - everytime. The bonus? You don't have to waste the energy trying to remember what you lied.
Always be honest yourself and set a good example. Bring this out to your child when it happens. Explain the different options that you had and the possible repercussions of each. Explain WHY honesty was indeed the best policy in each instance.
The best way to teach your children anything is to be a good role model. And to admit it (and apologize for it) when you've not been the right model. It shows them that this behavior is really important to you. In raising my children, they quickly learned that the consequences for lying were worse than the discipline for the misbehaviour they were trying to cover up!
Lead by exampe. If a child watches you lie, they will think that it is okay to do the same. Teaching children honest definitely is done through example.
When we were not honest we had to stand next to the refrigerator on a hot register until we came out and said we were sorry. If my parents thought we were insincere they made us go back and think about it some more until we could apologize to the point where our parents thought we meant it. It worked.
We are struggling with this issue right now with our oldest (he is 6). So far the best consequence has been to have him wear a sign that says, "Ask me why I have to hold my dad's hand" as we walk around our town. We live in a very small town, and we discovered with our son, the more he knew the person the more it affected him to answer honestly (the answer being, "I keep telling lies and my parents can't trust me."). However, it only worked for a couple of days as he slips back into little lies that slowly grow once again. I am very interested in hearing what others have to say for ideas and support. I feel his mother and I are both open and honest with him, and I am hoping this is just a stage of him testing boundaries and seeing what he can get away with right now.
My son, who inspired the question, is also 6, and has had trouble with lying for two years now, on and off. We are also truthful people, and we don't understand why he does it. In fact, we're not even 100% sure he realizes he's doing it!
It is similar with our son. He only realizes it when we point it out to him. It starts with simple things like- did you was your hands- he answers yes because that is what he is supposed to do, but then he thinks and says no. It is a challenge.
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