Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Honestly Speaking...

Yes...Let's be honest.

Teaching children to be honest is one of the hardest lessons to teach.  Where to we start?  When do we start? How can children tell the difference between truth and lies.  Let's be honest...this is no easy task.

When do we start...that answer is easy.  Start before your little one is conceived.  Be honest with honest with your mate.  Modeling honesty yourself is the first and foremost!  Surrounding your child with honest people is next.  If your child sees you accepting your spouses lies, they learn that it is okay for them to lie to you.

When our kids were small, we were shopping at a local department store.  I had our five kids with me, one small enough to be in a car seat.  That car seat was in the back of the cart.  We were done in the store and I had everything loaded in the car, all the packages in and the four older kids were in the car and buckled in.  I picked up the baby in the seat and went to buckle her in place when there I noticed a spool of thread that I had not paid for.  I unbuckled all the kids and toted the five of them back into the store, approached the cashier, explained that I hadn't meant to steal the thread and asked her to ring it up so I could pay for it.

The lady at the register was SHOCKED.  I had toted all five kids back into the store to pay for the $1.49 of thread.

That was one of the best $1.49 I have ever spent.  The honesty lesson was priceless.

When my son was four, we were at the local thrift store.  When we left and were getting into the car, I noticed that my son had a small trinket in his had that we hadn't paid for.  I marched him back into the store.  He had to apologize and return the trinket.  On the way home, I talked to him.  Half the conversation was focused on stealing.  The other half of the conversation focused on how proud I was of him for being honest and taking responsibility for his mistake.

Throughout the kids time of growing up, when we would come to a crossroads over a broken lamp and want to know what happened, we would give the kids options.  If you tell the truth, this is your punishment.  If you lie, this is your punishment....of course, the lying punishment was always double the honesty punishment.

Our youngest had big troubles with lying.  We did everything with her that we had done with the oldest kids.  Somehow, the lessons didn't stick with her.  She would come home from school complaining about friends saying that a friend of hers said she didn't believe her.  I would ask if she told the truth.  My daughter would, she had not.  She had not told her friend the truth.  Then I would ask her why....After trying and trying to figure our why she might be lying, I finally figured it out.  She wanted attention...she wanted to be the best.  Once I realized that, we worked on building her self esteem.  We talked about how wonderful it is to be the best...we also talked about how it's wonderful for others to have that same feeling and that we needed to take turns at letting everyone feel wonderful.  From there, the lying got lots better.

Just a few days ago that same daughter, now 17, approached me and asked, "Mom, what happens if I go to a party where alcohol is served.  Do you want me to tell you?  Are you going to get mad?  What happens?"
If we hadn't learned to be honest with each other, would she ever have broached that conversation...probably not.  She knows that her dad and I value honesty.  She knows that consequences of lying will be more devastating than telling the truth.  Being in a family where being honest with your emotions, and telling the truth, has allowed her to be open and honest with us.  This too, is priceless.

I don't have all the answers to teaching a child honesty....I have barely hit the tip of the topic.  I did find an article that might help give you more suggestions on teaching honesty.  You can find that here.

Today I am hooking up with We Are That Family and The Mommy Club.


  1. This is a lesson I wish every parent would teach! As a former teacher of elementary aged children, there were always a few children in the room who hadn't learned this lesson. It needed to be taught well before they came to school. It was hard to change that attitude of entitlement once they were in first or second grade.

  2. Great post and yes a lesson that needs to be taught, especially in today's society.