Children Learn What They Live #15

~ by Dorothy Law Nolte ~


Encouraging honesty in your family means demonstrating your own willingness to be accountable – to be able to say "I was wrong" and make amends.

Above all, our children need to learn to be honest with themselves. The peace of mind that comes from this knowledge is a great gift.

Teach your kids that honesty means "no addition, subtraction, or multiplication" of the story-it means just simply saying what happened.

We need to be forgiving of a small child who blurts our, "Your hair looks yucky!" She will learn the finer points of expressing her opinions in delicate situations by our example and explanations of kindness toward the feelings of others.

We need to leave room for our children to explore and express their imaginations, while teaching them to know the difference between telling stories and telling lies.

Our children need our support and encouragement to face unpleasant consequences, and to report truthfully in word and deed. Learning to see cause and effect is a lifelong experience.

Our children will be very quick to notice any discrepancies in the stories we tell them. Be careful about the example you set for them: if you don't, it will surely come back to haunt you.

Encourage your child to accurately tell you what happened on relatively small and unimportant matters. This prepares him to keep you in the loop when it comes to the bigger issues.

We need to find new ways to develop closeness with our teenagers, much different from when they were small children. Despite their growing independence, they need to know they can trust us with any of their problems or questions.

The child who deliberately withholds the truth may need help in expressing his thoughts and feelings. Give him plenty of room, and the help he needs, to say what's on his mind.

Most of us underestimate our children's ability to understand difficult issues, like sex and death. Though these matters may be challenging for us to talk about, we need to do so in ways that take into consideration the child's age and level of maturity.

Sometimes we thin we're protecting our children by shielding them from the whole truth. Usually they know when something's wrong, and they are far better off with an honest explanation.

Even as parents we know how tempting it can be to add or subtract key information from an explanation. Understand the difficulty, and give your child plenty of room to tell the truth.

When you ask your child to explain "what happened," remember that the way your child feels about what happened is also part of the story that needs to be told.

Our children need to be praised and thanked for telling the truth, especially when they have done wrong. Also, the consequences that follow should take into account the fact that they were honest with us.

There's nothing to be gained by putting your child on the witness stand and playing attorney to get at the truth. It's easier, and more effective, to just ask to heat the story of what happened.

When a child is in a difficult situation, we need him to feel free to be honest and truthful with us, so that we can help him. If he is accustomed to being treated with respect and consideration, he will be more likely to turn to us when he needs help.

Teenagers need some privacy in their lives in order to separate from their parents. Withholding certain things from us is not the same as lying. We need to learn to respect their need to become independent.

All children lie to their parents at one time or another. Find gentle but firm ways to insist on knowing the truth, so they'll know you're not the enemy.

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