What is a lie?
Talk to your children about what it means to be honest and why honesty is an important value. You can also encourage honesty by building trusting relationships with your children and helping them to develop self-awareness. Discuss the importance of being able to trust one another. Acknowledge that telling the truth may seem difficult sometimes. Sometimes we may not even notice when we are lying. While you should emphasize with your child that lying is wrong, it’s also important to note that occasionally there are good reasons to lie or to not tell the entire truth and provide specific examples. If your child is given a gift that he/she does not really like, you might say to your child that it is better to say you like the gift and express thanks rather than reveal your true feelings.
- Take turns reflecting on a recent time you were dishonest. This may include telling a small white lie or even just leaving out a piece of information. As a parent, you could also share an example from your childhood. After you have both shared, discuss the impact of your dishonesty and what you could have done differently. How did it affect others? You?
Children learn values by watching our actions and the actions of other adults they respect. Pay close attention to whether you are modeling honesty and integrity in your day to day interactions. Notice when your actions don’t align with the messages you’re sending. Nobody is perfect all the time. Acknowledge these moments and use them to model honesty and self-awareness.
- Honest Attention Day: This activity is meant to bring more awareness to the behavior you are modeling. For one day, from when you wake up until you go to bed, pay particular attention to how honest you are. Jot down notes if you need to. At the end of the day, reflect on how honest you were. Are you surprised? Would you do anything differently?
Being honest sometimes takes a lot of courage. If a child tells a harmful lie, it’s important to remind them that it is wrong to lie and why it is wrong, but it’s also important to thank your child for their honesty and willingness to share. Let your child know that you are proud of their honesty.