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6 Ways to teach your child the importance of honesty

Kia Morgan-Smith is one of our SheKnows Experts. She chronicles the whimsical journey of parenting on her blog CincoMom. "I’m not a supermom, because having a cape would require me to do more laundry," she says. "I’m just a busy mom mana...

If your kid is skewing the truth inside out, there are effective ways to whittle away his little white lies.

There's nothing worse than calling someone a liar. And even more if that someone is your 5-year-old child; the damage of that word can sear his little soul and tear up his confidence like confetti.

If your kid is skewing the truth inside out, there are effective ways to whittle away his little white lies. And while I'd never call my son a liar, he does need to know that his untruthfulness has consequences. And there are effective ways to create an atmosphere of honesty in your home.

Be the model of truth

Kids are nosy and listen in on conversations even when you think they're not. Create a truthful home environment by being truthful. Do what you say and do not litter your life with white lies. When you distort the truth, kids see that as an opportunity to do the same. They view it as a green light to be deceptive. Kids want to mimic mom and dad and they will think if you lie, they can do it too. You don't want them to think that way. Don't rationalize why you lie. And definitely don't co-sign your kid’s lies. If your child didn’t finish her homework for whatever reason, don't let her convince you to write a letter to the teacher saying the computer broke. These actions sanction lying and teach the child how easy it is to avoid the consequences of poor choices.

Don’t label the "liar"

Liar, liar, pants on fire! Don’t judge and don't shame your child into submission. It's much better to say to your child,"This isn't like you; you're usually honest with me." A label could give your child power as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don't breathe life into his lies.

Expectations

When your kids know you expect the best from them, then they are less likely to do things to disappoint you. Kids should know they do not have a choice when it comes to truth telling. Let them know that you expect them to be open and honest and truthful. Be clear and direct about it. When your child knows what you expect, he's likely to step up and deliver honesty.

Don't be confrontational

Say your child lies about the broken vase; instead of embarrassing him and grandstanding in front of a crowd and making a show, asking "Did you break the vase? Tell me the truth now!" pull your child to the side and address the situation out of the public eye. And by public I mean his siblings. Children will sometimes lie just to save face. Confront him but not in a way where he thinks lying is his only option to save him from trouble. When you are tender in your questioning, it's more likely he will spill the beans about the broken vase.

What is truth?

Talk to your child about broader topics and how being truthful can have a positive impact. Let him see the world from a truthful view and not a place where you can lie, be deceitful and get results. Explain to them that honesty goes a long way. Read them stories about The Boy Who Cried Wolf and have a meaningful discussion about how telling the truth is much simpler than lying and covering up lies. Truth always prevails in the end.

Offer amnesty

Wouldn't we all feel safer about situations if we knew we wouldn't be prosecuted if we just came clean? Well the same situation applies to your child. Children don't want to be truthful if they know a spanking, or a chair in the corner, awaits them. Try offering amnesty. Let your child know, no matter what, if they tell the truth they will not be punished. This method will definitely curb your child's affection for untruthfulness.

Photo credit: Jupiterimages/Creatas/360/Getty Images
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