A parent's dishonesty can teach children to be dishonest themselves.
Your tyke starts to explain what happened at preschool, but the story quickly veers from how nice her teacher is to how some of her classmates are dragons or butterflies. Before you call her out on her outlandish story, take note: Your preschooler's ability to tell lies and fibs is an important landmark in her development. Honesty is still an important lesson to teach your child, though, as her stories may not be so cute in another few years.
1Practice what you preach. Your child is listening to every lie you make. Lying to relatives to get out of baby-sitting or calling in sick to see a new movie sets a poor example for your little ones. Speak honestly or keep your lips zipped. Dishonest acts like taking pens from the office can also contribute to dishonest behavior in your kids.
2Hold off on scolding your preschooler. He may be lying to prevent a negative consequence. If he has taken things from the house or told a fib to cover up breaking something, sit down with him and say something like, "In this house, we tell the truth. Accidents happen. If you broke something, you can tell me and we will take care of it together. We also ask if we want to have something; we do not just take it."
3Remain consistent in how you teach your child honesty. As a child gets older, he will learn that some forms of lying may be socially acceptable -- like telling someone he likes his birthday present when in fact he does not -- but in his early years, your son cannot tell the difference between "appropriate" lying and inappropriate lying. Teach him to speak honestly or to say nothing at all. Aunt Delilah does not need to know that her dress is ugly.
4Reward a child who initially tells a lie but, upon prompting, tells you the truth. Withholding punishment and offering incentives to be honest increases your likelihood of raising an honest child.
- Do not encourage lying as a way to cover up poor behavior. If your child gets rid of papers sent home from preschool, do not reassure her or offer to solve the problem yourself by lying. Take her to preschool and let her inform her teacher of what she has done.