As a parent, you’ve probably noticed that our children are listening to us all the time, even (perhaps especially) when we’re talking to other people. This is just one reason why it is important for parents to be watchful of the truthfulness of what they say. To adults, it may seem okay to tell the telemarketer you were just walking out the door when you plan to be home all evening, or to make up an excuse why you can’t join a tiresome acquaintance for dinner. Most of us are guilty of these detours from the truth, and probably dismiss them as harmless.
But, when children hear these things, they may come away with the idea that it’s okay to lie if it makes things more convenient. Once that precedent is established, it can be difficult to undo. Trust is fragile and once broken, it is not easily repaired. As George Washington said, “Honesty is the best policy.”
African lions are fierce, powerful animals, weighing up to 500 pounds. Lions live in groups called prides, family groups of about a dozen female lions and a few males. The pride’s territory can be as large as 100 square miles. Male lions are extremely protective of their pride’s territory, and roar to warn other lions that might be invading their territory.
Lions illustrate truthfulness by openly displaying their intentions—roaring to intimidate intruders, and baring their teeth to send a warning before ultimately attacking if intruders don’t leave.
Look for opportunities to praise your child for telling the truth. Owning up to a mistake takes courage and recognizing that courage can have more of an impact than punishing a minor offense.
We are bombarded by advertising messages every day and many of these ads are aimed specifically at our children. Ever wonder what leprechauns or tigers have to do with breakfast cereal? The next time your child is fascinated by one of these ads, take a few minutes to discuss it. If they are old enough, ask your child if she thinks the company is really being honest about the product or if they might be exaggerating to get more customers.
Play a board game together, but first, read the rules aloud. Remember that following the rules means being truthful and playing fairly. You’ll be having fun spending time together and modeling the positive character trait of truthfulness.
I Will Statements
- I will tell the truth.
- I will admit when I am wrong.
- I will not cheat or steal.
- I will encourage others to be truthful.
- I will not exaggerate to make things seem different from what they are.