It may seem to be a simple concept, that being honest with your kids teaches them in turn to be honest and good, but many parents get side tracked and end up lying to kids about certain things. Lying is a bad habit to get into and teaches kids that it’s okay to lie if it serves certain purposes. Kids may also feel fewer qualms about lying to you if you regularly lie to them or tell them to lie to others.
Tell the Hard Truths
Certain things can be hard to tell children about, but lying to them will not protect them from the truth. In fact, lying to them may make them resent you for feeling that they were not strong enough to handle the truth. Things like death, family members with addictions, and friends or family suffering with severe illnesses can be very difficult to talk to children about. While you should choose your words carefully when talking to children about these concepts, you shouldn’t sugar coat the truth or avoid telling them.
Make It Feel Safe for Children to Tell the Truth
In addition to setting the example by being honest with children about even the hardest things, you must make children feel safe enough to tell the truth. Children usually lie because they are afraid of punishment or of disappointing their parents. When parents punish children harshly after learning the truth about broken belongings, tracked mud, and other issues, children become even more likely to lie to avoid punishment-but they learn to lie better so that they will not be discovered. In this way, many parents inadvertently teach their children to be good liars.
Treating children with love and compassion when they tell the truth can go a long way. Children may not have intentionally broken things (or whatever the issue is,) so it may help to talk to them about what happened and let them know that they can tell you the truth without worrying about repercussions.