Keeping Kids Honest – What Parents Can Do
A new study reports that if you want your child to tell you the truth, steer clear of threatening her with punishment. But according to the research the threat of punishment may only lead to the opposite outcome of what parents are trying to do. In this recent study by researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, 372 children between the ages of 4 and 8 were evaluated to see what influences why they lie. So what can parents do to encourage honesty in kids?
- Put lying in perspective. When kids lie, it’s actually a sign that they are hitting a developmental milestone; it does not mean that you did something wrong as a parent.
- Set the standards early. Talk to your child about why honesty is important. Younger kids tend to want to please their parents and other adults while older kids are more likely to be influenced by internal factors–a growing sense of right and wrong.
- Remember that positive incentive. Talking about the bad things that can happen when they lie isn’t enough, says Dr. Talwar. “Kids already know that.” Instead, focus on the good–that you and he will both be happier and that the truth will build your trust and make your relationship even stronger.
- Don’t punish them when they tell you the truth. When they are honest, recognize and acknowledge it,” says Dr. Talwar. Make it clear that you know and appreciate that they told you the truth.