In the month of February, the trait we will focus on is honesty. In the school setting, we will discuss being trustworthy, responsible for our actions, apologizing, and accepting and giving criticism. As a family, we are sure these are virtues you address all the time. Here are a few tips we researched while preparing teaching materials for our students and thought they may be helpful as you, like all parents, work with your children on honesty.
* Reward honesty- It’s hard for kids to be honest because there is an underlying fear of punishment. When possible, reward honesty with no or less punishment. There may be a warning rather than consequence. A heartfelt apology is expected. What we are trying to teach is honesty is more important than being perfect. We all make mistakes, and we can learn from them. Show your children you place value on truth.
*Stay calm when dealing with dishonesty- We want kids to tell us the hard stuff, and in order to encourage them, we need to stay collected when we are listening to things that upset or disappoint us. Telling your child you need time to think about this may give you the opportunity to think out how you want to handle a situation and build their sense of truthfulness and responsibility.
* Label the action, not the child- When you recognize your child is not telling the truth, state, “You told a lie.” That is not the same as saying your child is a liar, just that he/she made a mistake and now it has to be corrected.
*Define Truth- Let your child know it is dishonest to hide truth you know should be told. Deceiving, sneaking, exaggeration are all forms of dishonesty. Children may not understand this and need your guidance as they learn and negotiate our world. Let them know that when someone else tells them not to tell the truth, that is very dangerous. That is not something a real friend or caring person would do. Cheating and copying work is also dishonest and hurtful for our child.
*Focus on the Truth-Rather than focusing on the lie and asking why the child lied, focus on the truth. Explaining that you know something happened and that you can work together to find a solution and help teach them to own up to the truth is stronger than accusations. We want them to fess up, admit they were wrong and apologize. However, we also want them to understand we are on their side and not against them.
Model Honesty-Just like everything in life, modeling honesty with our own behavior is the best teaching tool. Kids do and value what we teach them- our words and our actions.
Teach them empathy- Help your child understand what it feels like to be lied to. Ask them questions such as “How would you feel if your friend lied to you? Help them see it is sometimes difficult to tell the truth, but it is also a great feeling when we know we’ve done the right thing. We can also help them see forgiveness supports honesty. We made a mistake and now we know better.
Just like in everything else we do, working together- home and school-our children learn so much more when we have shared goals and outcomes. Thank you for all you do and your support as we work together to grow honest, trustworthy children.
Mrs. Haas, Principal