Imagine for a moment a world where everyone was perfectly honest. Think about how drastically everything would change. Or imagine that you could trust everyone with whatever they said. What a world this would be! Even though this world may be far from that vision, your home still can be that way! Teaching your kids to be honest and true in all they do will bring so much peace into your home.
“Honesty, integrity, and truth are eternal principles that significantly shape our experience in mortality and help determine our eternal destiny.”
Neil L. Andersen
Being completely honest will bring you and your family so much peace of mind, greater self-respect, clear conscience, true joy, and will help maintain healthy relationships.
So how do you teach honesty and integrity to your kids? Here are some things that have helped us.
Be an Example
- If you speak the truth, your kids will notice. They are always watching you! I always laugh when my kids say something exactly like me or in the same tone.
- Model ways to be honest. Practice. Practice. Practice! Show them what it looks like.
- Follow through on your promises and punishments. Do what you say you’ll do. (ie: Don’t promise you’ll take away all of their Christmas presents unless you really will do it).
- Share examples with your kids of times when you (or someone you know) learned to be honest or had to show integrity. We like to share stories from the paper or great examples we hear about. You can learn a lot from others!
Find Good Friends
- You become like those people you hang out with the most. If your friends are encouraging you to steal or lie, you will likely do so also. Find friends that encourage you to be a better person and encourage your kids to do so as well.
- As a parent, Look for red flags. Friends that show disrespect to you or that you observe lying, being deceitful, or even breaking rules. Ask your kids lots of questions about who they are with, where they are going, what they are doing, etc.
- Point out good qualities in your friends or their friends that make them “a good friend”. We have had conversations like, “so do you think doing that made them a good friend?” Sometimes the answer was no and we would encourage them not to hang out with that person.
- Here’s my post about making lasting friendships.
Be Completely Honest
- It starts in your mind first. Keep your thoughts clear and positive.
- Be honest when “no one else will know.” (ie: when your child is barely in the adult pricing at Disneyland or over the kid meal or movie ticket age).
- Don’t over look the little things. They will add up to much greater problems in the future.
- Don’t make excuses for your kids’ dishonesty. They must learn to be accountable for what they do and why it is wrong.
- Don’t allow cheating…in games at home, at school, in sports, or in any circumstances. We have to talk a lot about being a good sport even when we lose. It is okay to not be the very top as long as you are doing your very best!
- Practice honesty. Give examples of times when the kids might need to be honest. (ie: if they are given too much change). Practice what they would do in that situation and then when the time comes, they will already know what to do.
- If you are undercharged for something, go back and pay the difference. It is super annoying to return from shopping and realize that I wasn’t charged for something. When this happens, I talk with my kids and let them know that I’m going back to repay it (even when it is only $2). It felt like a huge hassle at the time, but it paid off when we were at Costco one day…A lady dropped $5. My son saw that she had dropped it and quickly caught up to her to give her the money. She was so surprised that he would do something “so honest”. After giving him a great big hug she told him her grandkids would never do anything like that. In the end, she gave him the money as a reward because he was so honest. That is something he will never forget!
- Don’t allow your kids to do illegal things…(ie: driving without a learner’s permit or use illegal fireworks). These may seem like small things, but can lead to much bigger problems.
- Talk to your kids about lying and telling untruths.
- Teach your kids about being rude and that you don’t always have to say what you are thinking.
- Focus on the positive.
- Follow through on the consequences of lying. Explain the importance of telling the truth and how hard it is to believe a liar.
- I remember listening to the record when I was little of the boy who cried wolf. This is a great story to help explain why we should always tell the truth.
- Reward the truth. Talk about it. Point out every time they are truthful even when it may be difficult. Share how much you appreciate their honesty.
- Watch out for exaggerations. I know sometimes I just way overestimate a number without even thinking. Now I am making an added effort to catch myself right when I say something inaccurate and correct it right then.
- Focus on what you have. Show daily gratitude. Being grateful helps us appreciate what we have and not covet what others have.
- If the child takes something that doesn’t belong to them, help them make it right. My daughter once took some Chapstick from the store. We talked about why that was wrong on the way back to the store. She had to tell the clerk why she took it. It was hard for her, but she never did that again.
- Practice sharing with friends. Toys are an easy thing to start with.
- Talk about borrowing vs stealing and how to ask for permission.
- Make sure to return things you borrowed and take good care of them as well.
- Watch out for the little things that don’t belong to you…(ie: copying songs or movies without permission). Even if it saves you a little money, your integrity is not worth that small amount!
- Give your kids chores to teach them and help them appreciate hard work. Also, teach them how to do their best work no matter who will see it.
- Find ways to do service together. I have found that there is something about helping others with less material possessions and with bigger problems that helps you be satisfied with what you have.
- Teach your kids the correct way to get items that they want. If they can save for big things that they want, they will appreciate them so much more. Here’s my post on ways they can make money.
“There is a joy that comes to one from being honest. … You can have the companionship of the Master and you can have the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. …Howard W. Hunter
“We must be honest with ourselves, honest with God, and with our fellowmen”
Honesty and integrity will bring your family so much peace and joy. I have seen it in my life as well. Take some time today to do some self-reflection. What are some things you can do better? How about your kids? Do you trust them? Do they know that you trust them? Don’t let these things discourage you. Our most important goal is to be a little better each day. I heard someone recently talk about how every night in his prayers he repents of all the bad he has done that day. I really want to try this. Seek the Lord’s help to be able to be exactly honest. He will help you and your family and inspire you in ways to improve.
Things that inspired me: