Raising your child to be honest is the best you can do to help her become a good citizen with a strong character and moral values. While your child may occasionally tell a lie to protect herself, it’s important that you show her you expect honesty at all times.
One of the ways you can foster honesty in your child is to welcome her to share her thoughts and feelings so she grows her own voice. Use family dinnertime as the perfect opportunity to allow your child to express herself.
You should also talk to your child about truth, using words and concepts she can understand, and ask her what she thinks honesty means for trust and relationships. In addition, modeling honest behavior to your child will help her to understand why the trait is so important.
If you do catch your child telling a lie, seek to understand the circumstances behind it and try to learn what fears led her to believe that she could not tell the truth. Talk to your child about how she can tell the truth in similar situations in the future.
You should also hold your child responsible for her behavior if she does tell a lie. Fair consequences can teach her what scolding cannot. Giving her a way to make up for her behavior will teach her that lying about something didn’t make her any less accountable for her actions.
Finally, praise your child when she tells the truth, especially if she has been caught lying in the past. This will help her to feel good about herself and be more likely to continue truthful behavior in the future.
Susan Matherly is director at A Children’s Place, a service of Ephraim McDowell Health. She has a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science and a master’s degree in public health education. She can be contacted at (859) 236-7176.