We all know it takes a lot of courage to tell the truth for anyone at any age. Everyone has the ability to be honest but it needs practice and consistency. I know and from my experience I can say, teaching kids honesty can be a real challenge.
Let’s start by being honest in admitting that honesty is not just black and white truth. Often we-parents teach our children that honesty is the same as “speaking the truth”. But Honesty is about “being truthful” not just about “speaking the truth”. It is also about doing your best and trying to do the right thing. Honesty is also about taking what you have rightfully earned. It is also about fairness and straightforwardness.
The best way to teach kids honesty is by example. Our honest example and constant feedback on our child’s behaviour can have a great impact on our child. Honesty by example give them an assurance that their parents are doing their personal and professional affairs in an honest way and they should also follow their parents footsteps.
Although, sometimes lying seem more convenient than telling truth. Such dishonesty solves short term problems or give short term benefits. The most common scenario is when someone calls you and you don’t want to talk to that person and ask your child to say “Mom is sleeping or dad is not at home”. When you both are present right in front of your child. These are called white lies or convenient lies. These are the most frequent lies and are almost automatic. These lies may or may not hurt anyone immediately but the habit of these lies can get someone in trouble for sure and can affect someone’s life later. With these convenient lies we send mixed signals to our kids about honesty. Kids can think that convenient lies are ok and are accepted by their parents, to avoid this confusion be completely honest with your children and try not to tell convenient lies.
Once our kids understand the concept of Honesty then slowly we should introduce other aspect of this virtue. We want our child to be honest but not at the cost of hurting people’s feelings if they have done something really good or put lot of efforts or worked very hard. For example, Grandma works hard to make your child’s favourite dish on his birthday, spends hours in the kitchen and then he says, awwwe Granny, what did you make, this is not what I had asked for) Instead teach them to say something positive in a general way if not specific like ” Thanks Granny for making this dish specially for me on my birthday. its different but good.”
Here are the steps which we could try:
1. Set a good example or be a good role model: As we all know home is the first educational centre for a child so we, parents need be honest first as kids follow their parents footsteps.
2. Answer their questions honestly. If the questions are off limits tell them honestly why you are not answering.
3. Explain honesty by small stories, experiences etc
4. If a child confesses to some wrong doing, do not punish her/him, rather appreciate her/him honesty but with a clear warning not to do this in the future and give them a chance to start over again.
5. Don’t forget to point out the consequences of honest and dishonest behaviour.