Telling lies and being dishonest are two of the biggest problems when it comes to individuals interacting with one another. Lies and deception can ruin even the strongest of relationships. It is extremely important that children are taught the value of honesty at a very young age. Toddlers do not know how to lie. It is a learned response. If a child has learned how to lie, teaching them how to tell the truth and the benefits of being honest will serve them well for the rest of their life.
Teaching Children the Importance of Telling the Truth
While children do not know how to lie when they are very young, they also do not know the importance of telling the truth. It is up to the parents and other adults in the child’s life to teach them value of honesty and how telling the truth is always expected. Being honest is not just the right thing to do, it is also a reflection of a person’s character and the morals they were raised with.
Parents can set good examples for their children by being effective role models. A parent can show children that even though telling the truth may get them in trouble, the alternative is much worse. It comes down to respect. A child that has been taught the importance of respect for not only others, but themselves as well, will know that even though telling the truth may result in them being punished, it is far better to do that than to lose the respect of those around them.
Why Children Lie
Children lie for a variety of reasons. They may lie to save themselves from being punished or because they are afraid they will get someone else in trouble. They may also lie if they believe it will get them something they want. Teaching children the value of truth will show them that honesty will get them much further than lying. If a child is caught in a lie, especially one that causes harm to another person, it is important that they see the fruits of their actions. Understanding that lying can bring harsh consequences is the first step in teaching them to tell the truth.
Children who lie to get their own way are eventually found out. If by chance they get away with the lie, the consequences may come to late to teach any valuable lesson.
How to Make Someone Tell the Truth
If you want your child to do the honorable thing, allow them the opportunity to make things right. While there will still be some form of punishment, admitting they were wrong and taking responsibility for their own actions should gain them some level of forgiveness. Accepting responsibility for their actions is the main goal. If they have been taught the value of being truthful, most times the child will approach the parent on their own without being confronted.
It is important to remember that you can’t make someone do something they do not want to do. The same goes for telling the truth. As parents we may continually try to teach our children to tell the truth, but it is up to them to heed those lessons and actually do it. The only thing we can do as parents is to enforce the rules, we ourselves choose to follow. We can attempt to use every technique known to man, but the most efficient example as choosing to be a positive role model.
If parents set rules within the home and then neglect to follow them, they are setting a poor example for their children. The “do as I say, not as I do” mentality is a poor technique if you are trying to raise children who are morally and ethically responsible. In order for this situation to work, you must be willing to teach by example and provide the children with a role model that is worth emulating. Most children will begin to emulate their parents behaviors as small children. Being an effective and responsible role model should begin the day the child is born. Even children as young as two years old, will begin to understand the concept of lying if they witness it enough.
When giving children rules to follow, it is also important to apply consequences as well. If a rule is broken and there are no repercussions, there is no lesson to learn. If attempting to teach children not to lie, it is important to add an additional consequences just for the lying. This shows them that if they did something wrong and told the truth about it, their punishment would technically be less than if they did something wrong and tried unsuccessfully to cover it up.
Learning To Be Honest With Yourself
One of the most important lessons a parent can teach a child is the importance of being honest with oneself. Telling the truth may cause consequences, but what are the alternatives? If a child is caught in a lie, the punishment will be much more severe than if they had told the truth and accepted the natural consequences. Children must learn that parents and others who love them will continue to do so, even if they do something wrong. Teaching them that telling the truth builds a level of trust that will last long into the future.
Being honest with oneself about a situation is extremely important. If a child believes that lying will get them something they want, they need to realize that, if caught, the punishment will be two-fold. First for doing something wrong and then for lying about it. Deception destroys trust. Children must learn to accept the fact that if they expect to be trusted, they must tell the truth and continually show their parents and other people in places of authority that they deserve that trust and respect.
Changing Your Thought Process
As adults, we often think that telling small white lies will not impact our lives. The fact is that when we do and our children pick up on them, we are teaching them through our actions. Adults need to change how they look at being deceptive. If we want our children to learn to tell the truth, then we need to be just as honest as we expect them to be. For children to learn by example, they must have role models who actually exemplify the standards we want them to have.
A child will respect an adult who is honest with them. If a child is continually told a lie when a parent can’t follow through on a promise, they will begin to repeat the same behavior as they grow up. It is better to not make promises and then explain the situation, than to create a lie that may end up being found out later. Teaching children honesty is just one of the many steps a parent must take when trying to build their character and encouraging them to be responsible adults.
A child that is taught the value of honesty and telling the truth as a child will carry those values into adulthood. Being honest and trustworthy will earn them the respect of their peers as well as the adults they come in contact with through school and work. A child who lies repeatedly even though they have proven they understand the importance of telling the truth, may be experiencing problems with how they interpret information within the brain. They may also be actively seeking attention they may not be getting within the home. It is important to understand why the child tells the lies or omits details that could affect the validity of the story. In these situations, counseling may be needed to determine what is causing this type of behavior.