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Raising Honest Children

Posted by Anne Mickelson on

Dear parent,

There are so many parenting books out there – more than we could ever read in a lifetime, right?  That is why I have made it my personal mission to read as many as I can and pass along the nuggets of wisdom I think are worth sharing.  This month’s nugget of wisdom is from one of my all-time favorite parenting books.  Strange as it may seem, it’s from the Duck Dynasty family.

Here is an excerpt from the book

Strong and Kind: And Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed By Korie Robertson

"Honesty is a trait we must teach in our home. One definition of “honesty” is honorable in principles, upright and fair. Synonyms for “honesty” include authentic, decent, sincere, true and trustworthy. These are all positive, good traits that we want our children to have.

The definition of dishonest is characterized by lack of truth, honesty, or trustworthiness; unfair, deceptive.  Synonyms for “dishonest” include fraudulent, deceptive, corrupt, shady and underhanded.  All traits that we certainly do not want our children to have.  

While some kids are born with an “honest” gene, so to speak, others seem to be born with, to put it lightly, an aversion to telling the truth.  While all children lie at one time or another and must be taught that lying is wrong, some definitely seem to have a harder time learning this lesson.  

How do you deal with a child who lies?  This can be a tough one because sometimes it can be difficult to prove when someone is lying. But when you do catch a child not telling the truth, deal with it with an appropriate punishment. When I caught our kids doing something they weren’t supposed to do, I would often say:

“Before I ask you this question, I’m going to tell you that if you lie about it, your punishment will be much worse.  Before you answer, take a breath and think hard about what you’re going to say and make sure it’s the truth.”

If our kids told the truth, even if what they did was wrong, we would just talk to them about why it was wrong without punishing them.  However, if they lied about it, punishment was guaranteed. As children grow older, that warning might not be necessary or warranted because they have learned that lying is not appropriate.  But when they are young, it teaches them that they should take every opportunity they can to tell the truth.  

When your children are 2 ½ or three, test them in this.  Ask, “How many eyes do you have?”  They should be able to answer appropriately.  Then say, “I have three.”  This should bother them.  Then say, “I don’t have three.  I only have two, just like you.”  Explain to them that you weren’t telling the truth so you can teach to them what telling the truth means.  Explain how very important honesty is to your family.  This is one simple way to start the conversation.  This is important because typically what happens is that we wait for our children to display dishonesty before we have a conversation about being honest.

There’s not much I hate worse than to see my kids be dishonest.  However, there’s a time in almost all kids’ lives when they don’t want to be punished for something they did wrong, or they don’t want to do their homework or clean up the mess they made, and they simply don’t tell the truth.

Whatever the reason, we work to stop this as soon as possible in our home because we know the destructive path it can lead to.  If we allow our children to lie and get away with it when they are young, they will do that in their marriages, their friendships, or at their jobs as an adult.  If you aren’t honest about the small things, how can others trust you to be honest about the big things?

One tip in helping your kids stay honest, however, is do not back your kids into a corner so they think they must lie to avoid repercussions.  We make sure to let them know that honesty is always the best answer even if it’s fessing up to something big and bad that they did wrong.  I want our kids to feel free to tell the truth and to know that the truth is always the best answer."

Purchase your own copy of this book, or listen to the audio book here:

Strong and Kind

 

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