The other day, a reader wrote, “My child is lying to get out of trouble. How to I encourage her to tell the truth, even when it may mean consequences?”
I think we have all been there with our kids. It’s part of human nature, as they grow, to test boundaries.
That doesn’t mean that it’s a behavior that is to be supported. These tips to teach kids to be honest are tried and true!
Make Teachable Moments Fun
Yes, Mom and Dad are supposed to set limits, and be firm, but there are certain lessons that can be more lighthearted than others. We earn respect as parents by giving guidelines, and making children feel safe within the limits we give them, but we earn their trust by being soft when needed.
A fun way to work on this is to play a game together. Talk about the rules before you play. Ask your kids what they would think if someone cheated, just to win. What could that person do to be a better version of themselves? This allows children to look at it objectively, instead of feeling like their own behavior is the focus.
Practice What Your Preach
My husband and I always say that we would rather our kids be honest up front. In order to firmly set that habit, we talk to our kids about it (not while the actual lie is being told, but all of the time). We want them to know that lying now is not a good idea, and the truth will always come out… even if it is much later.
We make sure that we are also reflecting this with our actions. Are you telling little white lies and your child is watching? Try to stop yourself from doing this, and just be honest with your kids (as much as you can with little children, of course.)
Adults aren’t perfect. Sometimes we make mistakes, too. Owning up to it, apologizing, and doing better, not only makes you a better human, but also a better example for your little humans, who are always watching. Kids can struggle with honesty because they fear disappointing their parents. Make it a habit to talk about what you failed at so they know you are not perfect.
I also make sure to check my emotions, when responding to my kids. It’s easy to overreact in the moment, which then can cause kids to lie, because they fear your overreaction. Take a minute and count to 20 before reacting to any situation.
Keep The Lines of Communication Open
Hold a family meeting and go over consequences. Sometimes just having open plans about things can help clear the air. What do they do if they have done something wrong? What should they do if they’ve lied?
Remind your child that as they show they are honest, you will be more apt to give more freedom. My Mom always said she would trust us, but when the trust gets broken, it has to be rebuilt.
The next time they lie, talk calmly about what happened. Why did they lie? What happened as a result? Building a strong communication line with your kids is key to building honesty.
Be Patient and Positive
When you are working on this issue, be sure to forgive and forget. Give your child the hope that you believe they can be honest- do not label them a liar. Instead, label the action, and encourage them to turn from it. Children live up to what we expect of them. Our words become their inner voices.
Don’t give up on your child! It can take a lot of repetition, but it is always worth it. Keep on teaching, training, and modeling what you want your child to do.
Parenting Tips and Tricks
Parenthood can be amazing, scary, and, at times, riddled with self-doubt. Don’t fret! Whatever parenting issue is on your mind, we’ve got your back! Check out these topics, and join our online community for a well-deserved Mommy/ Daddy “cyber” coffee break:
- Learning To Be Kind (Kindness for Kids)
- Changing The Behavior Of An Arrogant Child
- How To Be More Patient With Your Kids
Comment below with any tips you have to encourage your children to tell the truth!