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Three Practical Ways to Teach Honesty To Our Kids

 
What are some practical ways to teach honesty to our kids? It really can be done with these simple practical ideas!
 
About six years ago, I first challenged my boys to pursue the adventure of living according to the knight’s code of conduct. I had stumbled upon this brilliant idea to inspire the moral imagination quite by accident and was immediately taken with the idea of issuing the challenge. My three young boys were obsessed with pursuing everything knightly. It was a win for all of us.
 
Because of the connection to bravery, they were eager and on the lookout to live out this code of chivalry even at their tender ages. It did not take long before such an opportunity presented itself to make the brave stand to live this out.
 

Three Practical Ways to Teach Honesty To Our Kids

Mom asking young daughters to tell truth. Text on image reads Three Practical Ways to Teach Honesty To Our Kids

Praying Biblical Virtues 30 Day
 
One of those aspects of the code included the call to “Speak the truth at all times.” My middle guy, who was only 5 at the time, did something naughty and he knew it. To this day, I don’t recall what he did, but his reaction when I asked him about it sticks with me still.
 
He looked at me with his bright blues and I could just see that internal dialogue taking place in his head.
 
“Do I fess up and face the known consequence {groan} or do I try to see if I can talk my way out of it by denying what I did. Do I or don’t I? Do I or don’t I.”
 
We’ve all seen our children go through these mental gymnastics as they weigh their responses, little knowing how visible this internal struggle is to us as parents at this age.
 
I waited because I really wanted him to choose honesty regardless of what I knew or didn’t know. As I watched, a look of confidence overtook him as he stood up straight and confessed.

How do you encourage honesty?

That day, early in my parenting journey, I realized the importance of tapping into the power of pointing them towards something. Instead of just telling our children not to lie. We began a strategic focus on speaking the truth.
 
Happy young boy. Text on image reads Inspire your children to be Truth Tellers

How do you teach a child the importance of telling the truth?

1. Inspire their Imagination

We can start by captivating the imagination and inspiring them to want to pursue honesty. Narrative is powerful. We draw their attention to examples of honesty and the fruit of lies in the stories we read to them. It is in narrative where we identify with the struggles and triumphs of others. It is in narrative where we are inspired to become the heroes of tomorrow. It is in the context of narrative where we can have beautiful conversations with our kids about the struggles to choose the right path.
 
For my boys, the idea of “knight training” is so firmly entrenched in their thinking, that they want to emulate the strong path towards ideal knighthood. With my daughter, we discuss the strength, dignity, and inner virtue that accompanies a woman who is trustworthy. Inspire their imagination – give them a mental picture to aspire towards and watch them flourish.

2. Point them to Scripture

We inspire the imagination, but more importantly, we connect the importance of truth-telling to scripture.
  • What does it look like to live as Kingdom people?
  • How can we be set apart?
  • How can we value truth and other people above personal gain and selfishness?
We can read them the following narratives:
We can work towards memorizing some of the following verses:
  • Proverbs 12: 13-14
  • Proverbs 12:22
  • Proverbs 6:16-19
  • Colossians 3:9
  • Ephesians 4:25

3. Give them a Way Out

If we are honest with human nature, we will recognize that our bent is toward serving and protecting self. We will also recognize the agonizing trap one falls into because lies rarely abide alone. One lie leads to another and then another.

I write in Knights in Training about the importance of helping our children know how they can come clean. Because the only way to do that is confession. It is in confession that we are able to tear down the web of lies that we wove and live free again. We play a “Web of Lies” game (tutorial here) to drive home this point. The simplest way to become free of the snares of these lies is to come clean.

It starts with a bold moment of brutal honesty and a commitment to seek God to walk in integrity and rebuild trust as a truth-teller. It is a bold move, our children are brave enough to take, we remind them.

Use These Three Practical Ways to Teach Honesty To Our Kids

As our children walk in truth, this forms a habit that will serve them the rest of their lives. Celebrate honesty. Inspire them with narrative. Ground them in scripture. Show them the powerful path of confession and communicate your unwavering expectation and loving support in this endeavor.

***

Heather Haupt is the mother of three knights-in-training and a spunky little princess. Recognizing the brevity of childhood and the power of a parent’s influence, Heather both inspires and equips families toward intentional parenting, pursuing God, and delighting in the adventure of learning. She is the author of Knights-in-Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous and Compassionate Boys and writes at HeatherHaupt.com.

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