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How can I raise an honest child?

Michele Borba
Psychology
If you want to raise an honest child, make it easy for your kid to open up. While you should expect honesty, your child also needs to feel safe enough to come to you and admit his mistakes. A “too harsh” approach creates fear and he may decide that lying is a better alternative than admitting with the truth; a “too lenient” approach can make lying become a habit he gets away with. Watch that balance.

Push effort over outcome. Meanwhile, do get savvy about the pressures today’s kids face. Let your child know honesty matters more to you than the grade. Push “effort” over “outcome.” Bless the parent who says, “It’s your integrity that I care about, Honey!”

Know electronic cheating techniques so it isn’t “easy”

Be a model of honesty. In all fairness to the kids, a big reason those cheating statistics are increasing is because of our own blasé response. Beware: if we know our kids cheat and give lip service, it only reinforces their “no big deal” attitude. Let your child know this behavior is unacceptable, goes against your values, and will not be tolerated. Meanwhile, watch what you model to your kids. Studies do find that kids learn to lie and cheat from the example we set. So take a Reality Check. Would you…

Reinforce honesty. Give your kid credit for owning up to his mistakes and having the courage to admit a lie. Behaviors that are reinforced are more likely to be repeated, and repeated behaviors are more likely to become new habits. Praise your child’s honesty. Whenever your child lies, sit him down ASAP and use it as an opportunity to teach honesty: “I expect you to tell me only the truth and I will do the same so we can always believe each other.” The trick is to find the right balance in your response so your child knows lying is wrong, but will still come to you with the truth.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.