Character Teaching Your Four-Year-Old the Importance of Honesty

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 four-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. 

Help your child understand the importance of telling the truth:

Model Honesty

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. 

Talk About Honesty in Books or Media

When you are reading or watching together, point out when characters tell the truth — and when they don't. Use characters to talk about why it's important to tell adults when they need help. It might sound like this: "Oh, she lost her mom's necklace and she feels sad. What should she do? . . . . Yes, she could tell her mom what happened and then they could look for it together. That's being honest."

Explain What It Means to "Tell the Truth"

At this age, kids don't always know the difference between truth and fiction. In their mind, if they don't tell you they broke something, you won't know and the problem will magically disappear. Begin to teach them the concept of "honesty" and "truth" through simple, supportive conversations. It might sound like this:

  • "In this family, if we break something, we say, 'I did it.' That's telling the truth. And then we clean it up together!"
  • "You took your brother's toy and now he's crying? Thank you for telling me that. You told the truth. Now let's go give it back and help him feel better."

Build Good Character Skills with Daniel Tiger

Through imagination, creativity and music, Daniel and his friends learn the key skills necessary for school and for life, using strategies grounded in the teachings of Mister Rogers.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Four-Year-Old

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