Children lie for various reasons. But instilling in them the value of honesty is essential for them to become upright and successful adults.

How to teach my child to be honest?  5 key tips
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz the October 27, 2021.

Last update: October 27, 2021

Although it is not always given the importance it deserves, honesty is one of the greatest virtues of the human being. It is what makes us trustworthy in the eyes of those around us and what allows us to be at peace with ourselves. If you have asked yourself, “How can I teach my child to be honest?”, We want to help you.

Contrary to what many think, this value is not exclusive to adults. Although it takes hold over time, its foundations are laid during childhood. However, the role of parents, caregivers and other adults involved plays a relevant role in it.

Some parents tend to delegate to the school the task of educating in values. The truth is that the main socializing agent of childhood is the family. Therefore, although the school stage intervenes in this process, the family has a role that cannot be replaced. Let’s look at some tips.

Why teach my child to be honest?

Perhaps you have thought at some point that it is not so necessary to emphasize honesty, that telling a few lies is typical of children and that this tendency will eradicate itself with the passing of the years.

However, although learn to lie is part of the child’s evolutionary development, the lack of transparency can take its toll on your child from the first moments. Also, once the habit takes hold, it will be more difficult to break. Here are some important reasons to teach honesty.

  • You can trust him. You will have the certainty that his word is true; therefore, they will be able to cultivate a stronger and healthier bond.
  • You will avoid the discomfort of inconsistency. And, in effect, when what we think, say and do is not aligned, we experience the so-called “cognitive dissonance”, which generates a great internal restlessness. In addition, if you teach your child to be honest, he will not have to bear the suffering and guilt of a tainted conscience.
  • You will help him to be more responsible, For he will not avoid the consequences of his actions, but will face them and learn from them. In turn, this will allow you to feel proud of yourself and you will be able to trust your ability to cope with mistakes.
  • You will learn to tolerate frustration instead of resorting to tricks or falsehoods to always get away with it.
  • You will be more trustworthy in the eyes of others and, therefore, enjoy better social relationships.
Teaching honesty in children allows you to cultivate healthier relationships with them.

How to teach my child to be honest?

Of course, it is time to respond to the question of “How do I teach my child to be honest?” In particular, there are some key elements that help cultivate this value to be taken into account. Discover the most important ones in the following space.


1. Reinforce your sincerity

Parents often make the mistake of overly emphasizing children’s negative behaviors and ignoring their appropriate behaviors. For example, they often apply punishment or scolding when the minor tells a lie. However, when it tells the truth, it is overlooked.

But when it comes to teaching honesty, acting in the opposite way is more effective. That is to say, You must acknowledge your child’s bravery when he is honest. Even if you have to correct him for what happened, you can applaud him for his act of nobility.

2. Set a good example

Undoubtedly, children’s behaviors come largely from the example of his elders. Have you ever thought about how many white lies you tell him every day to achieve some goal? You cannot demand that they be honest if you lie in front of them or even ask them to lie to others.

3. Choose consequences instead of punishments

One of the reasons children lie is to avoid a negative event. For example, not to receive punishment or not to disappoint their parents. Therefore, if your reaction to their transgressions is exaggerated or disproportionate, your child is more likely to feel the need to lie.

On the other hand, if you respond calmly and measured, they will perceive you as a safe place to which they can go even after they have failed. This emotional closeness will help you open up and open up. Of course, this does not imply being permissive or overlooking their misconduct. Rather, it is turning it into an opportunity for their learning.

4. Show him another more suitable way

Your child will fail multiple times throughout his life. Therefore, it is important that you offer valid exits so that they do not have to fall into the lie. In this sense, you can explain to him that he can accept his mistake, ask for forgiveness and try to repair the damage. Ultimately, this will be more positive than hiding the truth and shirking responsibility.

The idea is that you understand that lying can hurt the people you love and hurt their relationships. Instead, honesty will allow you to strengthen your bonds.

5. Don’t put their honesty to the test

Avoid being tempted to test your children’s sincerity. To cite a couple of examples, if you notice that the child has not cleaned up his room, do not ask him things like: «Have you ordered yet? ». Or if you’ve seen him spill a glass of juice on the couch, don’t say: Who has stained the sofa?

Given this situation, minors may make the decision to risk lying so as not to be discovered. Over time, this can become a habit. So, better use assertiveness and remind him that his room is still messy or ask him to clean up the spilled liquid.

To educate children in honesty it is necessary to help them understand the consequences that a lie can cause.

A child who learns to be honest becomes an adult with integrity and values

Instilling honesty from an early age has more benefits than it may seem. Specifically, children understand the value of honesty and the value of trust between two or more people.

In the long run, this also influences your tendency to associate with other people who are also upright and honest. That is to say, they will develop healthier interpersonal relationships. They will also avoid major setbacks and grow into assertive, capable, and trustworthy adults.

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