Honesty means we are truthful in what we say and do. It means people can rely on us because we have integrity. Honesty is the basis of a trusting relationship. For five-year-olds, honesty looks like responding truthfully when asked about a situation and sharing important information with trusted adults. At this age, most kids understand the difference between telling the truth and lying and that it’s good to tell the truth -- but they also want to please adults, so they may lie to hide accidents or misbehavior.
Character Teaching Your Five-Year-Old the Importance of Honesty
Encourage your child to be truthful:
Kids watch and model adult behavior. A study from the University of California, San Diego, found that elementary schoolchildren who heard a lie from an adult about the presence of candy in another room were more likely to lie to cover up their misbehavior. If we want our children to be honest, we need to be good examples of honesty.
Reminding kids that it's important to tell the truth before you ask about a situation increases the chance that they will be honest. Let them know that telling the truth is both important and brave. When your child tells you the truth about the situation — particularly if it was hard for them to do so — remember to thank them for their honesty. When we make a mistake, the first step to fixing the situation is to be honest about what happened.
Respond Thoughtfully to Lying
Encouraging your child to tell the truth is important, but what should you do if you know they are lying? Definitely don't label your child a liar. That won't help your child embrace truth telling. Instead, share what you know about a situation, explain that you expect honesty and give your child a path forward by finding a way for them to make amends. In some situations, it may help to acknowledge the feelings behind their lie, such as fear, anxiety or embarrassment. Help them see honesty as an act of courage and responsibility — something worth striving for.
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