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 | By Sheri Wohlfert

Help Children Grow in the Virtue of Honesty

My dad boldly cut to the chase when there was a lesson to be learned. If we didn’t tell the truth, we heard, “A man is no better than his word, so the real cost of lying is another man’s trust.” Nobody likes to be lied to or deceived, so helping our children grow in the virtue of honesty is important and sometimes difficult work. Here are a few tips to help.

• Understand the why: There are three common reasons kids don’t tell the truth. They want to win approval. They want to cover up misbehavior so they don’t disappoint you. And they want to avoid punishment.

• Dig up the root: Once you discover the why, dig deeper for the root. If you’re trying to figure out why your child told their friends you owned a beach house and a private jet, you might discover the bigger lesson is about authentic friendship.

• Show them: Our words and actions are powerful. Children pick up on what we say to others. If we make up a story to get out of a commitment or call in sick when we really aren’t, they see that as permission to tell lies themselves. We have to model honesty if we want our kids to be honest.

• Catch them: Acknowledge the times they do tell the truth and act in an honest and trustworthy way. Make sure you point out how pleasing that is to the Lord.

• Don’t set them up: If you see their blue tongue and know they ate the blue sucker you told them they couldn’t have, don’t ask them if they ate it. Move right to the heart of the matter and say something like, “I see you ate the sucker, so your consequence will be ...

• Truth and love: Call them out when they don’t tell the truth, but do it in love. Scripture is full of stories like that of Zacchaeus, who wasn’t honest, but, with the help of Jesus, found a way to make the situation right. Let them know being honest can be tough, but God is always there waiting to give us the grace to say and do the right thing if we ask for help.