I venture to say, you need to first be an honest parent, before you can truly raise an honest kid. If you do not practice a system of truth, where honesty is rewarded and lies are neither condoned nor rewarded; in and out of the home, where your child living, it may be the reason he/she entertains fabricated stories and habitual lies.
Children do most of which they learn, and are taught; whether taught indirectly or directly. They are a sponge. Not to sound cliché, but they soak in all of the things that is in their surrounding. That includes the things that you say, the things that you do, your attitude toward things, how you act and how you generally handle things. As they grow older, they adopt these measures of behavior, as ways of their own. Some may learn early in life what they need to stop doing. Whereas, others who are subjected to it longer or more consistently, they began to inadvertently implement it into their core character.
I believe in both cases, children keep what they need or want out of the ordeal, when they feel that it produces positive results for them. Such as, learning to lie about certain things and associating the lie with reward. They can tell a lie about a certain thing and be treated a lot differently than from telling the truth. So they begin to think that it is ok to tell a lie. They begin to see a benefit in telling a lie over the truth. They are not taught about an honest policy and the only example they have is broken system of morals to learn from.
A child is truthful about something he/she did in school, which reflected in poor behavior and resulted in a punishment, by which he was reprimanded for what he did at school. He begins to believe it’s because he told the truth. He does not want to get in trouble, and so he thinks that maybe he shouldn’t have told the truth. Not so much, meaning that the act of truth – telling is why he’s punished, but because of what the truth was, and the guilty plea.
Next time: A child lies about something he/she does at school. He/She is asked about it, and responds with a lie. Nothing happens, because the lie he told exonerates him from punishment. If the adult finds out that it was a lie/or maybe knew all along that it was a lie, the child is not reprimanded in any way.
The lie is accepted by the adult in the situation, and even when the truth comes out, there is nothing to clearly define for the child, what the benefit would be in telling the truth next time. He/she has not experimented and found that the lie will save his bottom.
The children of the world are not shown where the rewards are higher for telling the truth, because if they told the truth, they received a harsh punishment.
Telling the truth shouldn’t excuse bad behavior and by no means, am I suggesting that it should. But what it does is help you raise an honest child. You decide the punishments, but beware of what you are teaching when he/she is trying to tell you the truth about something.
Children also watch their parents and closest people to them, and study how they act in situations of truth vs. lies and how that will play out. Some kids are even encouraged to lie when they have bickering parents, who more than often permits a child to lie about something they don’t want the other parent to find out about. This is the biggest no-no in the game of raising honest children, in that you are “giving permission” to your child to lie and teaching them that its ok to do so, when you do this. Even when you tell them it’s a “little white lie” and it’s ok or when you lead them to believe that he/she can only lie about this certain thing.
Children are not processing all the logic you may have behind the lie. All they hear and walk away from the situation learning, is that it may not be ok to lie all the time, but it’s ok if you do. How is that not confusing? “Don’t tell mommy this” or “don’t tell daddy that”, or “If mommy ask this- tell her xyz”…All those things are absorbed by that child. “Don’t tell mom what you did over the summer,” is lying by teaching your child to omit things. “Don’t tell the whole truth about this”…is also teaching your child to lie by omission. “If mommy asks if you missed school today, tell her no, even though you did”… is another LIE!
A child will sometimes ask why? Especially as he/she grows older and began to understand that he/she is being told to lie. They don’t have to know the details behind the adult lies, but they will ask why, until it starts to make sense. Which most of the time it won’t. Because nothing will help a growing child understand that it is ok to lie to their parents, except another lie. Such as: “If you tell mommy you did xyz, you will get in trouble.” At this point, you are pumping fear into a child, which will manifest into a motive and soon, a reason for him to continue to keep your lies.
It’s just a subject that we need to be careful with as parents, because we’re all guilty of telling at least one “little white lie” in life. And while the example above is more on the extreme side, there are actually some people out there who have done it and even more who can tell you all about their experience with parents who still do it. We have all told our kids that they don’t have to tell the truth about certain things and probably never thought about how we are teaching them to do something that in general, they should not do.
I would never ask my child to lie for me or to be dishonest about something where we are concerned. I teach him about the importance of telling the truth and I make sure I reward him or show him the benefits in telling the truth. When he does tell me a lie, as he’s a 6-years old, growing and still learning, as well as doing a temperature check on what he can get away with; I have the conversation with him that he has to always tell me the truth. I always give him the second chance to tell me, in the same breath, by reminding him that telling me the truth means that I will be better educated/informed about what is going on and will have a more accurate understanding of what I need to do to help him. When my child knows that its all about the “TEAM,” through me reminding him that he can’t lie to the captain, he’s assured that his best bet is to tell the truth.
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