This month our Powerful Word of the month is “honesty.”
Honesty means being truthful,trustworthy, sincere and open. Honesty is about ensuring that things are as they seem and that actions match promises. When people are honest, they aren’t “hiding” the truth in any way.
Many parents believe that honesty is a very important value to teach their children. However, according to a recent study in the International Journal of Psychology (2013), the vast majority of parents lie to their children in order to get them to behave. Parents report telling lies designed to influence their children’s eating habits or to discourage pleas for toys or treats while shopping.
Other studies tell us that children lie more as they age. While we don’t want to raise dishonest children, believe it or not, lying is a developmental activity that shows both intelligence and social skills. The child must be cognitively aware that s/he can fool another person with words or actions. It’s especially common among preschoolers who have active imaginations and are still learning the difference between fantasy and reality. Teens often lie to get them out of trouble.
Dishonesty can be revealed through lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarizing and more. As we get older, we learn that people can even lie through body language, omissions, intonations, and inflection. The idea of this kind of willful deception–the intention to deceive someone even when you know something is untrue– can be a bit confusing to children who may not fully grasp how a lie can be told without telling anything at all.
Honesty is not always easy but it is often “the best policy.” There are times when honesty is not optimal, for example, when we want our children to keep a secret, keep information private from strangers or refrain from telling their Grandmother that they don’t like the birthday present she gave to them. We want children to be honest but still intuitive and empathetic.
We look forward to partnering with you on discussing honesty this month.