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Parenting Skills - 3 Ways to Help Kids Tell the Truth and Build Character

By Jean Tracy, MSS

How can you be sure your child is telling the truth? Inside you'll find 3 problems and 3 solutions for raising your child with honesty.

Parenting Skill #1 ~ Building Character without White Lies:

"When Colin's mother kisses him on the cheek, he always wipes it off. She told him not to wipe her kisses off because the love would come off.

One morning just as Colin was about to wipe off the kiss, he saw his mother watching him.

'I wasn't wiping it off,' he told his mother. 'I was just moving it up.' - Grace Housholder

When your child tells you a white lie to avoid hurting your feelings, what should you do? Most parents, smile, laugh, or make a funny remark. They enjoy the moment.

Later when the laughter is over, find out what your "Colin" thinks about white lies. Ask him, "How did you feel after you told me you didn't wipe it off, you just moved it up? What could you have said instead?" Ask him if he can come up with a better way to avoid hurting your feelings than telling white lies. The best answers come from your child.

Parenting Skill #2 ~ Building Character with Tact:

Art Linkletter asked his TV kids questions that sometimes embarrassed their parents. Here are a few of the most embarrassing answers,

(Art Linkletter) "How would I know your mother if I met her?"

"My mother has a brown dress, brown shoes, and long stockings with knots to hold them up above the knee."

"My mother's sort of fat and wears a torn green dress."

"My mother has dark brown hair, glasses, and a lot of safety pins where you can't see them."

These children were young and hadn't learned the art of being tactful. If you were one of the moms with pins, knots or a torn dress, you 'd probably feel pretty embarrassed, especially in front of the TV audience. What should you do?

Take the time to talk with your child about tact. Talk about feelings. Talk about keeping secrets. Ask him "How would you feel if I told everybody you wet the bed? "Would you want me to keep it a secret? Would you want me tell good things about you instead?"

Let him know that your pins, knots, or torn dresses are secrets. Tell him to share nice things about you, your family, and other people. Teach him to tactful.

Parenting Skill #3 ~ Building Character with the Truth:

Kids often tell lies to keep out of trouble. Help your child understand that she'll get in less trouble if she tells the truth. Give her consequences when she won't come clean. Be consistent. When she tells the truth, give her praise and make her punishment significantly less. Let your children know they don't have to be perfect. Help them see that everybody makes mistakes. Tell them a small-minded person lies. A brave person tells the truth.

Conclusion ~ Building Character with Truth and Tact:

Training your child to tell the truth helps him understand the difference between, white lies, outright lies, and tact. This parenting skill is worth taking your time and patience to develop. Raising an honest child is blessing to your family, your community, and society. Your child's honesty is the foundation of his character.


Jean Tracy publishes a Free Parenting Newsletter. Subscribe at KidsDiscuss.com and receive 80 fun activities to share with your kids.

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