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Teaching Children to Tell the Truth - A 4 Point Plan For Success
óby Colleen Langenfeld
Are your children honest? Can you trust them to be truthful with yourself and others? If you believe that teaching children to tell the truth is important, then you can appreciate the value of having a plan to make that goal a reality.
While we can't make our children tell the truth at every turn, we can have a major influence in their moral development. We can make honesty the only interesting, smart and appealing choice for our kids.
And once they start down a pathway of truthful habits, those habits get stronger and more deeply ingrained each passing year. Until truth telling is simply second nature.
Here's a simple 4 point plan for encouraging your kids to develop the lifelong habit of honesty.
1. Honesty must be valued.
This seems obvious, but here is what I've seen happen time and time again. Parents in a family like the IDEA of truth telling, but not the HARD WORK of honesty. If you value honesty, you will make being honest a priority each and every day. It is what you do, far less than what you say, that carries weight with your children.
If you are not valuing telling the truth in your family, neither will your children. Period.
2. Develop a culture of honesty.
This second point flows naturally from the first point. Once you decide that you are going to make honesty a priority in your home, look for ways to incorporate truthfulness in your everyday life. Instead of only focusing on behavior that involves lying, emphasize truthful behavior everywhere you see it. This will show both you and your child how vital a foundation of truthfulness is in daily living and that throwing the occasional lie in the mix is like throwing a wrench into a smoothly running machine, causing problems far more difficult to solve than the original issue.
3. Be consistent.
Teaching your children to tell the truth is not a one time conversation. This is a lifestyle decision which means you will need to examine your own actions in light of being honest. Do you believe there is ever a time to tell a lie that's acceptable? What ethics are involved in that decision? Is that decision made for your benefit or for the benefit of others?
These are difficult questions, but wrestling with them will clarify your own position on honesty and ready you to help your child work through these same ethical issues as they grow.
If you find you have trouble being consistent in your own honesty and you'd like to change that, help yourself consider new points of view by studying religious and philosophical books on the subject. Start a discussion with other parents like yourself who want to bring up their children in a conscientious manner also.
4. Use examples.
Literature is filled with examples of both honesty and dishonesty. So is our modern culture. Movies, songs, television shows and the local newspaper show the consequences of people who have not decided to be honest in a variety of ways.
Talk to your kids about these examples. Learn to observe when people are telling the truth and when they are lying. Help your kids to think about how they feel when someone is dishonest with them. To foster discussion, you can ask that each member of your family notice one act of honesty or dishonesty each day and be ready to discuss that information at the dinner table. This type of activity is invaluable in creating the culture of honesty we talked about above.
So if teaching your children to tell the truth is a high priority for your family, you can use this simple 4 point plan to keep your parenting focused on creating a culture of honesty by valuing the trait, being consistent and incorporating life examples into your family's daily routine.
Such deliberate character training is sure to help your kids start down a solid pathway of honesty.