Raising Honest Kids: Why Parent-and-Child Communication Matter
Honesty is a core value and moral character that even adults have a hard time putting into practice. It is attributed to trustworthiness, straightforwardness, and integrity. People who are trustworthy are easy to trust. When you are honest, you are also more trusting of other people.
Honesty is one of the first values that you teach kids. However, many parents would agree that it’s not always the easiest one to teach. Children are easily drawn to lie to cover up for their mistakes, especially when they are afraid of getting punished for it. From taking an extra gummy bear from the jar to purposefully drawing on their bookshelf, your kid’s honesty is tested when you are not looking.
One morning while I was cleaning my daughter’s bedroom, I saw crayon markings on her all-white bookshelf. I always remind her not to draw on walls and on any fixture in our home. I called her in and gently asked if it was her who did the drawings on the bookshelf (even though I already know it was her). I wanted to see how she would react when confronted with the truth.
I was expecting her to deny drawing on the shelf and point out someone else to cover for her mistake, but she didn’t. To my surprise, she actually admitted to the act and said sorry for what she did. Of course, I kept calm and talked to her gently, I did not scold her for drawing on her shelf. I listened to her explain why she made those drawings and she listened to me explain why it was not good to draw on furniture and why she should not do it again.
I learned more from my daughter than she learned from me that morning.
Why is it hard to tell the truth?
Maybe because the truth feels awkward or are we just too afraid of the consequences when we commit a mistake that telling the truth does not become the instinctive option?
Raising an honest child is every parent’s dream. More than their academic success, your child’s character and values, are what will help them achieve real success and happiness in life. It’s already overwhelming to raise a child, let alone raise an honest one.
Model honesty in your home. Children learn more from what they see than from what they hear. So, the first step to raising an honest child is actually, to model the value of honesty in your own home. Don’t lie to your children and don’t let them hear you lying if you don’t want them to lie to you.
The most important thing to practice is to improve your parent-child communication. When you communicate well with your child, they become more trusting of you. When you develop a strong relationship between you and your child, you also make it simpler to discuss challenging subjects with them when they get older.
When you communicate well with your child, they become more honest with you. But, this relationship is not built overnight. Good parent-and-child communication is built over time and it is strengthened when you regularly bond with them.
Starting a good conversation with your child is as easy as reading a book with them. When you read a book with your child, you join them in their fantasy world, in the world of books. Through reading, you will be able to discuss topics with your child, and then it becomes a habit that feels natural for both of you.
It can be challenging however because some children tend to be reluctant when introduced to books. Choosing the right books is crucial. Choose good books that your child can relate to, like a personalised book where they are the hero of the story. Some children just appear to be uninterested in reading because of the material and they are more interested when reading a personalised book (Bracken, 1982).
Books designed to meet a child’s specific requirements and interests are highly likely to generate strong interest from them (Kucirkova, 2010). Parents who do bedtime reading communicate better with their children. Good parent-and-child communication is the foundation for raising honest children!