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10 Ways To Teach Your Children To Be Honest

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“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. When it comes to small children and honesty, it’s not usually hard to find. The word “brutal” comes to mind. “Aunt Becky, did you know that your belly is huge?” With older children and teens, the truth sometimes becomes more elusive.

You have to deal with it when it happens or you’ll lose an opportunity to teach your children the importance of honesty. Here are a few ideas to help guide your children to be honest. Here are 10 ways to teach your kids to be honest.

1. Reward the Truth.

As parents, we are often quick to scold. Sometimes we aren’t always so quick to praise. Reward honesty with loads of praise and hugs. It will build self-confidence and reinforce the positive behavior. Plus a child can never get too much love.

2. When to be Quiet.

We have all heard the saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” One needs not lie. Just don’t say anything or find something else to say that is positive. “That sure is a colorful shirt.”

3. The Hard Truth.

Doing what is right always outweighs protecting the feelings of someone who is doing wrong. Wrong is always wrong. Teach your children to stand for what is right.

4. Model It.

You do not want your child to hear you telling a lie or see you perform a dishonest act. Yes, you could enter the national park for free since there is no attendant. But the sign says $5 dollars. Put your money in the slot and move along. Those little eyes and ears are always open.

5. Do Not Lead the Witness.

Though it’s tempting to test them, try to avoid asking questions that give your child a chance to not be honest. You saw your daughter spill red juice on the couch. No need to ask, “Did you just spill your juice on the couch?” This leads her to believe she might have a way out and could possibly pass blame elsewhere. Just tell her to clean it up. She’ll have enough opportunities to tell the truth.

6. Truth or Consequences.

Your kids will eventually lie to you and you will eventually catch them. It’s important that there be consequences for their actions. Appropriate discipline should be carried out and followed through. Make it not worth it to lie.

7. Correct Mistakes.

Catching your child being dishonest is a good time to break out your teacher hat. Help him correct the mistake. Talk about how he could have responded or reacted differently.

8. Keep Your Word.

The most important character trait a person can possess is keeping and following through on promises made. Teach your children to be people who consider their word gold. When they give it, they don’t break it.

9. What’s Yours is Yours.

Teach a child early on that what they have belongs to them. What other people have belongs to that person. It is not OK to borrow a game and never return it. It’s awesome to share, but the item must always be returned. Value your own possessions and keep your hands off your neighbors’.

10. Look for Honest Friends.

If your child’s friends lie and cheat, so will they. But if your child’s friends are upstanding and honest clean through, your son or daughter will be that much better off. Keep an ear out for any of your children’s friends who lie.

Tell us! What have you been teaching your kids about being honest?


When is it hardest for you to tell the truth?

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