When you’re a parent, there are all kinds of things that you are responsible for teaching your child. Yet, of everything on the “to-do” list, perhaps one of the most important ones is honesty. Being honest is not just about telling the truth. It’s also about being the kind of person who is fair and upright, who is sincere and frank and who does all that they can to do things with a pure motive.
So, when it comes to instilling such a powerful character trait within your son or daughter, what are some of the things that you can do to teach the principle of honesty to them in a way that they can understand? We have a few ideas below.
Be honest. One of the best ways to teach is to lead by example. If you want your child to be truthful and sincere, then it’s really important that you model that to them. When they ask you a question, make sure to give them a direct answer. When you’ve made a mistake, make sure to apologize. And when there’s something that you don’t know, such as a homework question, it really is OK to simply say “I don’t know. Let’s look it up.” The more they see you conveying yourself in a clear fashion, the better they will become at communicating in that way as well.
Remove fear. A big reason why many people are not as honest as they should be is because they are fearful of the consequences that may come with actually telling the truth. For instance, if you tell your child, “You can come and tell me anything” and they break a vase, come and tell you and you fly off of the handle, the message that you are actually sending is that when they do speak truth, you get angry and they may get into trouble. Now, this doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be consequences for certain actions, but it is really important to try and not create an atmosphere of fear by making sure that you remain calm when they make a confession. For a lot of children, the guilty conscience that they have after doing something is more than enough pressure on them, anyway. They need your guidance on how to correct the mistake; not fear it.
Reward truthfulness. Even in the “big world” that we as adults live in, we’re probably used to people making it a point to tell us when we’ve done something wrong rather than we’ve done something right. That said, while teaching your child the importance of being honest (by telling the whole truth and not just pieces of it, by the way), make sure that you make a concerted effort to reward them when they do tell the truth and/or do things for the right reasons. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to buy them things (that could actually teach them that if they tell the truth, they will get things and that’s not the healthiest resolve), but do make it a point to praise them, hug them and encourage them to stay on that path. An honest child is the foundation for becoming an honest adult who makes an honest living. That’s always a wise and peaceful kind of existence.