Honesty is a Heart Matter
Honesty matters. Period. Honesty comes from the heart. Teaching the heart honesty is a life-long process. Good character traits start with honesty and teaching our children to be honest.
Little hearts should start to learn honesty at a young age. As parents, we must guard the hearts of our children protecting them from the society that devalues honesty and integrity. We must reject the idea that our beautiful children are born knowing to tell the truth.
Public personalities, TV shows, and the internet web pages/videos reinforce the idea that the truth is unimportant. Our culture minimizes the value of truth. Sometimes, the dishonesty is so rampant, it’s hard to tell when someone is telling the truth.
Are Children Born Honest?
No, children are not born with a truth-telling instinct. In fact, they are born with an instinct to lie (or at least adjust the truth for self-preservation). For example, try asking them if they cleaned their room after you told them. The answer is always yes, but when you check their room you find a mess. Ask if they if they are ready for school. They always say they are ready, except when it’s time to leave and they have no shoes on and their hair is not combed (and they still need to eat breakfast).
As parents, we have the responsibility of teaching their children the importance of honesty and truthfulness. We can never minimize or accept dishonesty or even the smallest untruth (like saying you are ready for school when you are not). We must hold ourselves and our children to the highest standards of honesty and truthfulness. Here are some ways to teach your children honesty.
Four Ways to Teach Your Children the Value of Honesty
1. Be an Example for Your Children
Always speak honestly and truthfully with your children. Children look up to their parents as their primary life examples. Set a strong example by speaking the truth.
The example we give our children will impact them. They are always watching us. If we are not showing honesty in our life or providing our children a good example of being honest, they will not learn to value honesty and integrity as they grow up either.
2. Set High Expectations For Your Children
Do not allow even small fibs. Children constantly test their boundaries. Show them early you always expect them to be honest. Trust between children and parents must be earned.
Do not accept or tolerate even the “whitest” lie, because all lies are lies and that makes them black and bad. If you accept one small lie from your child, they will continue to test you to find your limits. One little small lie, becomes a bigger one and then a bigger one until it becomes harder and harder to tell the truth.
3. Show Your Children Examples of Honesty and Dishonesty, Especially in Leaders and Public Figures
Use public figures as an example of honesty. When leaders act with integrity (especially when it’s hard), teach your children the value of honesty and to respect this person’s actions. In the same regard, explain to your children dishonesty should not be accepted even from leaders and public figures.
Be diligent to point out examples of the consequences of honest behavior and dishonest actions.
4. Teach Your Children to Respect Honesty and to Value Integrity in Your Everyday Life
Learning to live a life of honesty and integrity must be done individually and over time. We all must recognize that trust is built every day. If we fail to be honest in our daily life, people will have difficulty trusting us when we ask them to.
We need to teach our children to live honestly every day so that no one will ever question their integrity. It’s much easier to believe someone when they live their life by the same principles every day and they have proven they can be trusted.
Honesty matters and must be taught every day. Sadly, children that become adults without learning how to be honest are unlikely to become honest adults. Lying becomes a habit, even when the facts don’t support the lie.
Teach your children honesty by giving them a strong example of an honest life. Always set high expectations and don’t lower your standards. Use real-life examples to teach honesty and the consequences of dishonesty. Help them recognize that honesty builds trust over time.
How do you teach your children honesty? Why do you feel it’s challenging to teach children honesty?
I love your thoughts on this. You gave some great examples on how to do it. I know for me, my child will occasionally lie in an effort to please us. I blog occasionally about children and love hearing how other parents do it. As parents, I think we need all the help we can get.