Encouraging Honesty in Children
Why does anyone, particularly a kid, lie? The most obvious answer is to avoid the ramifications of someone discovering the truth. "Did you hit your brother?", I might ask my son. A "yes" could mean he won't get dessert tonight or to watch a TV show, but a convincing "No" could mean he is off the hook. No wonder it is tempting to lie! In addition, many kids don't want to face an adult's disappointment in them... Or maybe they just want to see what sort of crazy story they can get you to believe.
Ultimately, the decision to lie is up to the individual child, however, here a few things we can do to encourage honesty:
- Avoid trying to "trip them up". Should I ask whether a child hit his brother when I already know he did? Instead, be honest of your awareness of the situation so that you can address the situation.
- Focus on the positive. Ask them how they can work on making a situation better. "I can see that the cereal got spilled all over the floor", you might say. "What do you think the best way to clean it up would be?"
- Applaud honesty. When a child responds to a "what happened here?" question truthfully, praise them for it. Let them know that it is brave to always be honest and that you are proud of them.
- If they do lie, focus on their motivation for doing so. If my son lied about hitting his brother, I could respond "Why didn't you tell me the truth? Are you afraid I'll be disappointed in you?" "Even if you make bad choices, I will always love you."
You can find more on these tips and others here.
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