Monday, March 14, 2011

Encouraging Honesty

Honesty is something that can be difficult to cultivate in children since they have endless imagination and it’s easier to lie than to tell the truth in order to stay out of trouble.  I know my son went through a stage when he was lying all the time!  I never knew when he was telling the truth and it made me nervous because one of the virtues I value most in myself and others is honesty.  I was so scared I was raising a kid who would end up a pathological liar!  It’s very hard to encourage honesty as well as discipline.  On one hand you know the child lies to avoid getting in trouble so you don’t want to punish for honesty but on the other hand you can’t let them beat up siblings without consequences just because they tell the truth after.
First of all, make sure you aren’t being too harsh with them.  This requires really taking a look at yourself.  Don’t feel bad!  We’re all trying to do our best and pretty much every parent I know has been too harsh when they should have been more lenient and been too lenient when they should’ve been tougher!  That line in the middle is usually a tough one to walk.  You just want to make sure your child doesn’t really have a reason to be so scared that they’re lying.
Second, make sure you’re not setting your child up to lie.  If you’re angrily asking, “Did you just hit your sister?” when you know they did it can be tempting for them to lie.  Instead say, “I saw you hit your sister” and then handle the situation. 
Third, practice what you preach and point it out to them.  If you receive too much change make sure you give it back.  Let your child know what happened and why you did it.  Make sure you’re not fibbing and not realizing it.  For example, saying “I don’t want to take this call, tell her I’m in the shower”  is a great way to show your kids it’s okay to lie to get out of a situation.
Another idea is to role play with pretend situations.  Act out situations where it would be tempting to lie and show your kids how to handle the situation instead.  One idea would be to have the child pretend they saw a twenty dollar bill fall out of your pocket.  Ask what they would do.  If they don’t know make sure you tell them.
Give them opportunities to confess when you suspect they are lying.  You can say something like, “I feel as if I’m not getting the whole story.  Is there a reason you feel you can’t tell the truth.”  This gives them a safe way to be truthful.
Catching them being honest will reward them for honesty.  When they tell the truth when it would be more difficult to lie make sure you point it out.  “Honey, you could’ve told me you didn’t eat that last cookie but you chose to tell me the truth even though you knew you might get in trouble.  I am so proud of you!”
Let them know your family values honesty.  One of the most powerful things you can say to a child is “In this family we…” In this instance you would say “In this family we always tell the truth. We do not lie.”  This lets them be a part of the family by telling the truth.

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6 Comments:

At March 16, 2011 at 3:46 AM , Blogger Sonia said...

Hi , i liked your blog especially they way u r utilizing it to create values in children, beautiful expression.

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http://www.soniakathuria2010.blogspot.com/

 
At March 16, 2011 at 9:00 AM , Anonymous doreen said...

Such a good post. I think it comes down to as you stated always being the good example. Kids watch and listen to everything we do.
I am a new visitor and follower.

 
At March 16, 2011 at 11:05 AM , Blogger http://adventurezinchildrearing.blogspot.com said...

good stuff- i like your perspective on this!

 
At March 16, 2011 at 8:45 PM , Blogger Our Mom Spot said...

This is a really good blog post.

Honesty is a good trait to teach our children. It's important not to set them up for failure.

Next blog post - "tact" LOL!

 
At March 17, 2011 at 3:16 AM , Anonymous http://www.dontmesswithmama.com said...

Great post! Totally agree. My challenge is acknowledging when they tell the truth even when they don't want to (e.g. lying) yet still providing discipline on the behavior.

 
At March 18, 2011 at 10:01 AM , Blogger http://adventurezinchildrearing.blogspot.com said...

I read somewhere- a fab parenting book which name currently escapes me- that you shouldn't ask the questions that you know the answer to already- don't ever try to "trap" them in a lie.
I have to laugh when I read the statement about "raising a pathological liar" because I have had to really work on myself with a situation in our family-
we have one who is adopted and the birth mother is actually a sociopath - he has issues that we are working on (with professional guidance)
but I don't ever want to "put" something on him - there are signals that we need to be aware of, and then there are things that are just little boy-
I have to really trust God's guidance- I know that HE didn't bring us to this point because He wants us to loose the fight for this babe. There is a good life available for him & we do have what it takes to train him well.
As far as the challenge of discipline while encouraging truth- a statement and hug that "I'm so proud of you for telling the truth- that's hard to do sometimes but you did it right! and ... now you only have to do a time out for (hitting your brother- or whatever) but it would have been BIG trouble for lying- good job"
I also say when questioning them "take your time- you know we always tell the truth in our family" I think it helps them to know they aren't on their own - "WE always tell the truth"

 

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