Sunday, March 6, 2011

My opinion on teaching children honesty

A Disclaimer:  We all have to figure out what is best for our own family. What works for one, may not work for another. I am in no way trying to tell anyone else what they should do.

"Treat a person as he is, and he will remain as he is. 
Treat him as he could be, and he will become what he should be."    
Reader's Digest March 2011                                                                                         

We all have parenting opinions, right?
I want to share one of mine. It came from my own mother, and I think she got it from hers. 
Anyway, it worked for us.

I was never much into punishing my children. Especially for saying a non truth. 
(I never liked to use the word 'lie' either.)

Children are not "liars" anymore than they are "thieves." 
They are little humans who come into this world not knowing much. 
They need to be guided and encouraged, not labeled. My opinion anyway.

Okay, this is what I did. Disagree with it all if you would like.
1. Don't ever ask a question to your child you already know the answer to. Don't say, "Did you hit your brother?" when you just saw that he did. I believe this encourages children to lie.

2. Don't punish a small child for not telling the truth. This will usually make them just try harder next time to lie better. It doesn't seem like it should work this way, but it does! Don't ever ignore it either. Instead, look them straight in the eye and say kindly and bluntly, "It's important you always tell the truth."  Sometimes I added,  "I need to always be able to trust you." and then leave it at that.

3.  Praise them often for telling the truth when you know they have, by saying, "Thank you for being honest. I know I can count on you." Don't go overboard but state it matter of 'of course I can count on you.' not, 'oh my goodness I can't believe you told the truth!'

4. Don't use the word "liar" or "lie."  Those are labels they do not need. They do not deserve. They are children with unfinished brains. 

5. And the most important one of all. Be honest. If your children watch you make up stories to get out of things, they will probably do the same.

I give my parents credit for all of this. 

Have I forgotten anything?

I know not everyone reading this will agree with me and the way we did things, and that's okay.
What has worked for your family?


Richard said...

Couldn't agree with you stop telling me what to do.

Grandma Honey said...

Richard~ Of course you agree. You had the same parents I did.

Sue said...

I agree too, and I had different parents than you did.


Grandma Honey said...

Different parents, Sue, but your Mom seems a lot like mine.

Stephanie Cozzens said...

I do agree - and small children, especially, have a hard time telling fantasy from truth.

It made me feel good the other day when Sophia broke a glass, and told me about it before I found out. I was just relieved she didn't cut herself, and didn't make a big deal out of it.

She and Hallie had an extended conversation that "Wow, Mom didn't get mad, and I told the truth, too."

Good lesson for them and for me.

Karen Mortensen said...

I agree. I like #3.

Scrapally said...

When I read your posts, I wish I could go back and do it right! :) I totally agree with this post. It makes perfect sense. I always told my kids trust was the easiest thing to break and the hardest to fix. thanks for sharing your "inherited" wisdom.

Heather said...

I love, love, love this. Growing up I was occasionally "set-up" to lie by my parents asking me questions that they already knew the answers to. I eventually got smart enough to know how much of the truth they knew and would just confess to that and lie when I knew they honestly didn't know. So I feel like it taught me to be more sneaky. I also never set my husband up to lie, if I know he did or didn't do something that upsets me, I just gently confront him about it. Even if he wouldn't lie, I just don't want him to feel I distrust him enough to "test" him like that.

The other day Hannah was crying because she fell (I thought she just tripped). I was comforting her and Nathan blurted out (without me asking) that he had pushed her. That was a conundrum! I didn't want to scold him when he told me the truth on his own initiative but I also didn't want to let him think pushing his sister was no big deal. I just gently (and briefly) talked to him about not pushing and thanked him for telling the truth.

Parenting isn't easy, is it? I love when you have posts like this, since you've been where I have.

Nate and Julie said...

I like when you said "they are children with unfinished brains." I've noticed a lot of parents my age expecting their young children to understand and obey after one instruction when their little brains are still processing and interpreting those expectations. I believe children innately want to behave they just need the proper instruction and opportunity to behave properly. I've found that when Clara acts up, it has more to do with me (not giving her enough attention, not sticking to her schedule, etc) than anything else. Her little brain is still developing and I just try to give her the tools to succeed. As you can tell, parenting has been on my brain A LOT lately! Thanks for sharing these tips!

Darlene said...

Jill, you are right on. I couldn't agree with you more. Sounds to me like you are a very good mom and your children are very fortunate. Your good teaching will serve them well when they get older, believe me. Unfortunately, a lot of children are not getting the benefit of parents who teach their children well.

Eileen said...

Oh, Jill, I wish I had known you when my children were little. I've made so many mistakes.
I often think how wonderful if I could only go back and undo all the 'wrongs'.
This is a beautiful post.
And I think you are a beautiful mother/grandmother.
God Bless you! You were/are such a good role model.
I think of you when I hear the song, "Keeper of His Light".
God must be so pleased.

I enjoyed your last post, and I think it's wonderful McKay found the gravesite!

Robin said...

I too love this post and I hope to remember to share it with Hill when she gets home !! I didn't have any issues with honesty as she was an only child and Hill was honesty personafide!! She hates to be lied too and I always told her the truth, and that is why at 6 when she demanded to know if Santa was real I spent an hour trying to talk her out of wanting to know !! lol When I told her the truth finally she cried !! And said, "What about the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny?" I said do you really want to know? and she cried "NO" !! lol

Holly Decker said...

you are wonderful, grandma honey!

i gave you an award on my blog... you will have to scroll down a bit to find it.
don't feel obligated to do the tag, just know that i appreciate that you read my blog.


Dad and Susan said...

Jill, Your dad thinks you are VERY WISE!

Not labeling is "the way it should be." The words "Stupid," "Idiot," "Dumb," and "Liar" should not be used. I even have a hard time saying "Bad dog!" I can say "Naughty dog" just fine, but calling anyone bad is difficult for me. Love, Dad and Susan

Grandma Honey said...

Stephanie~ Exactly...children live somewhere between fantasy and reality. Sophia and Hallie are so lucky to have that twin relationship where they can come to conclusions together :)

Karen~ I like #3 too.

Scrapally~ I wish I could go back and do some things differently too!!

Heather~ I wish I could say I always handled things as well as you did when Nathan told you he pushed Hannah. I'm sure I blew it many times by getting angry when I shouldn't have.

Julie~ What you wrote reminds me of a saying I heard decades ago and tried not to forget, "There is no such thing as a bad child, only an unhappy one."

Darlene~ I agree with you that many parents just don't take the time to teach. So many are way too busy.

Eileen~ Hey, I've made plenty of mistakes too!

Robin~ I love how you handled Santa and the Easter Bunny. I did basically the same thing. I went along with all the fantasies of Santa, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy, but when they asked me, I always told the truth. I wanted them to know they could trust me.

Holly~Thank you for mentioning me on your blog!

Susan~ Of course Dad thinks this is WISE. It came partly from him :)

darlene said...

When my kids finally asked about Santa, I told them he was just a fun "pretend" and lots of people like to keep pretending about Santa Claus even after they find out, because it's so fun to play along. They accepted that, but the older ones begged me not to tell the younger ones for "a long time"!They didn't want me to spoil it for them.
Also, about negative labeling. I was very careful not to do that because I felt that they could become stuck in that label. Better to let them move smoothly through their stages without dragging a label around with them!

Heather said...

Commenting again Jill, because I love what you said about "no such thing as a bad child, only an unhappy one." When Hannah was born, Nathan was only 20 months, and as I struggled to balance nursing a newborn and caring for a toddler (not to mention my own needs as a nursing mom!) I found Nathan was throwing fit after fit. I was so frustrated and wondered where my sweet little boy went. One day, when he was having a tantrum, I realized he hadn't eaten in awhile. Then later, he was very cranky again, and I realized he was overdue for a nap. It finally dawned on me that when he started acting out, it was almost always because I had forgotten his snack or naptime. I shared my discovery with my husband that evening and the next morning as Jared left for work, he sent me this text "Have a great day, I love you. And remember - if Nathan is acting out, he is either hungry or tired!" Things went a lot more smoothly after that.

Grandma Honey said...

LOVE it Heather!!
Such a sweet husband you have.