The reason we want to instill honesty in our children may seem obvious, and in many ways it is. There are many facets to this pillar of morality so it is important to frequently discuss the benefits of telling the truth with our children. Discuss the following with your children to help them learn why honesty is important:
• By telling the truth, others will respect and trust you.
• Honesty gives you peace of mind and fulfills a sense of justice within you.
• Practicing honesty gives you self-respect and self-confidence.
• Honesty in a relationship enhances the bond, deepening the relationship and creating a closer and more meaningful connection.
While helping them examine the benefits of honesty, it is also beneficial to discuss its opposite, dishonesty.
• People don’t trust people who lie.
• You can lose valuable friendships.
• You hurt your friends and loved ones.
• You hurt yourself and your self-esteem.
• People who lie frequently and build their lives around lies ultimately lose sight of reality and lose what is important to them.
Share anecdotes with your child about practicing honesty as a child yourself and how that impacted you. Conversely, give an example of a time you were dishonest, and its impact on you and those around you. This exercise is very important because children can lie to avoid punishment. It is a valuable lesson for your child to understand that everyone can make a mistake but being honest about it is extremely important.
It’s also important to clarify that withholding information is the same as lying, and shading the truth is not the same as telling the whole truth. There are various degrees of lying from omission, to withholding the truth or allowing an untruth to prevail, to outright commission of a lie; each of these is an unacceptable display of dishonesty.