How to Encourage Honesty in Your Children
A Rich Legacy
When it comes to instilling lasting, practical values in kids, Shakespeare was spot-on when he penned the words, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” Honesty learned in youth provides lifelong blessings for children. Their relationships will be stronger. They’ll enjoy more freedoms, and they’ll experience more feelings of self-worth and peace throughout their lives.
Teaching the Why
Simply telling kids to be honest isn’t enough. They’re more likely to choose honesty for themselves when they understand why it’s important and how it will positively affect their lives.
Throughout childhood and beyond, children will encounter all kinds of social situations when being honest is not the popular choice, but when they understand the why, they’re more likely to have the courage, understanding, and maturity to be honest anyway.
Honesty = Trust = Opportunity
Most children are in a hurry to grow up. When they learn that grown-ups generally reward honesty with increased trust, opportunity, and responsibility, they’re more likely to put forth effort to prove they’re worthy of more privileges. Helping them understand that honesty leads to trust and that trust leads to opportunity is a lesson that will continually bless them and help keep them engaged in good works.
Feelings Are Important
Honesty feels different than dishonesty. Though the feelings are often subtle, honesty has a freeing, peaceful effect; dishonesty, a tumultuous, binding one. This can be tricky for kids to sort out, especially in situations when telling the truth is a little scary or uncomfortable, but by helping kids focus on how they feel after being honest, you’ll help them recognize the naturally sweet consequences of living a life of truth.
Teaching children to follow through with obligations and commitments is also an important part of living successfully in a grown-up world. When your child tells someone they’ll do something, make sure they keep their word. Honesty and dependability go hand in hand.
Be an Example of Honesty
As our children grow, perhaps the best way to teach them honesty is by being honest ourselves. Whether we realize it or not, our children are always watching and learning from our example.
Elder David A. Bednar said: “I believe the best test of our integrity and honesty is when we personally enforce in our own lives that which ultimately cannot be enforced. There are so many aspects of being honest and of living the gospel that simply cannot be enforced in our lives by anyone else. You and I bear the responsibility to become people of integrity and honesty—people who are true and trustworthy when no one is watching and when no one else is around.”
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