As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. Teaching your preschooler about honesty is important because they are at the age where big imaginations can come up with big lies quickly. Most parents know when a preschooler is being dishonest, but you may not be able to recognize dishonesty as easily as your child gets older. By teaching your preschooler how to be honest now, you will set them on the right path to remain honest.
The best way to begin teaching honesty, even before the preschool years, is to make sure that you are honest. Children are much more likely to do what you do rather than what you say should be done. Obviously you shouldn’t lie in front of your child (or ever, really), and never have your child lie for you or go along with a lie. Even if it seems like a small lie, the seeds of dishonesty have been sown in your preschooler if they see you being dishonest.
Explain to your preschooler that lying usually only makes matters worse, but owning up to a mistake allows you to resolve the problem and move on. Let your child know that they can be comfortable telling you the truth, and you will always be proud of them for being honest, even if you don’t like the situation.
Discuss the consequences of lying with your child, and let them know that sometimes dishonesty can be dangerous. Most of us have been schooled on honesty through The Boy Who Cried Wolf at some point. I remember hearing the story as kindergartener and immediately grasping the message. Explain to your preschooler that when someone is frequently dishonest nobody knows when to believe them.
Notice and reward honesty from your preschooler. When your child admits something difficult to you, thank them for the honesty. Of course, they will still have to deal with the consequences for the bad behavior, but let them know that you appreciate their honesty.
“Little white lies” can be a difficult area for many parents to navigate with young children. You want to teach your preschooler honesty, but you don’t want them to be so honest that they hurt the feelings of others. Talk to your child about avoiding hurtful comments, and help them learn to look for something positive to say in an uncomfortable situation. You may hate your aunt’s meatloaf, but maybe you can compliment her on the dessert.
During the preschool years children really start figuring out how the world works and thinking more deeply about situations. This is the perfect time for them to start grasping concepts like honesty. It really is the best policy, and your child will be a better person because of the little lessons you are teaching now.