› What To Do When Children Tell the Truth
What To Do When Children Tell the Truth
posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - April 2nd, 2014
When children do tell you the truth about something – they broke a vase because they were playing basketball in the house and they’re not allowed to do that – they tell you it. Instead of getting upset about them doing something they shouldn’t have done in the house, take a moment to say, “I’m glad that you told me the truth about this. I’m not happy that you were playing basketball in the house and you know the rule is that you can’t do that. I want you to follow that rule. Here is the consequence. There are consequences there for that transgression. But there’s also recognition and praise for the fact that they were honest about it.
That’s a really important thing for parents to think about. Anytime our kids do tell us the truth we praise them for that. That’s likely to keep them telling the truth in the future.
Of course, with all this focus on telling the truth, its important to remember that some lies are important. You won’t want your child to ONLY tell the truth.
The reason you don’t want to do that is because that also has negative repercussions for the child. Just like we really don’t like liars we also don’t like people who are very blunt to the point of not even thinking about the consequences of what they’re saying. That can have negative repercussions and the child can become estranged from friends or classmates. So you want to then give them a strategy to talk about it, and also model that behavior to the child.
All parents tell the occasional pro-social lie, such as saying you love a sweater with frogs on it that your aunt gave you even though you hate frogs. But then you need to explain to your child why one tells these kinds of pro-social lies and why it’s okay and what is the purpose. The purpose is to spare the other person’s feelings. They start to understand the distinctions there.
This is about modeling the behavior that you wish to see in the children. If you tell the children that you don’t want them to lie but then they turn around and watch you lie to the telemarketer on the phone, telling the telemarketer, “No, I’m very busy right now, I can’t talk to you,” while you’re sitting watching the TV or something, that’s sending mixed messages. It’s very important that you explain your behaviors to your children and you model what kind of behavior you want to see in them.
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