Every parent wants to raise a trustworthy child who is held in high regard among their family members, friends, co-workers, and society in general. We all have seen those kids who grow up with no moral compass and seem to find themselves trudging through life with no direction and no respect for themselves or others. No parent wants to face having raised a child who is dishonest. So, what can you do to prevent your child from becoming one of “those kids” who grows up to be someone no one can trust?
What Happens When a Child Grows Up Being Dishonest?
While it may not seem like such a big deal when a child is only five years old and tells lies on a frequent basis, this behavior will no longer be accepted once the child reaches adulthood. Children who grow up telling lies on a regular basis are not respected by family members, teachers, friends, or people in the community. A child who is labeled as dishonest often carries that title with them for life, especially if they become a lying adult who does not change their ways. Dishonesty can often lead to:
* Failure in school
* Issues with college admissions
* Difficulty gaining employment
* Difficulty keeping employment
* Problems with personal relationships
* Problems with breaking the law
Dishonesty creates a slippery slope that can become easy for a child to become entrapped in. It seems one lie leads to another and another and before you know it, a child is having difficulty distinguishing between reality and the make believe world they have created with their lies. As Sir Walter Scott said, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Oh, how true this quote is!
What Makes A Child Become Untrustworthy?
Before we launch too far out into the deep, it is important parents realize children are going to lie from time to time and this does not necessarily mean they will turn out to be a deceitful adult. Children may lie for a variety of reasons, including:
* To avoid being disciplined
* To receive a reward
* To protect others
* To enhance self-esteem
* To protect their privacy
Unfortunately, it does not take long for a child to develop a habit of dishonesty, especially if they are not disciplined appropriately when caught in a lie. While discipline is crucial for helping a child develop a habit of honesty, the wrong discipline can cause further problems that can be difficult to address.
What Is the Wrong Way to Address Dishonesty?
When a parent realizes their child has committed a serious lie, they are often devastated. Suddenly finding out your child has lied to you in a big way can be hurtful and make you very angry. Often, parents become so angry with finding out their child lied, they go overboard on punishment, thinking they are doing the right thing and this will “wake up” their child. Regrettably, this signals to the child to forego telling the truth in the future because they do not want to face such a stiff punishment.
As parents, we can often feel we are doing the right thing when we are actually doing the direct opposite. Instead of encouraging our children to tell the truth, we act as policemen, doing our best to catch them in lies and then bringing on swift punishment. Yes, discipline is crucial but modeling the correct behavior and open communication are even more so for developing honesty in a child.
Parenting can be difficult when it comes to knowing how to properly discipline a child and address their issues with dishonesty. Although it can be cumbersome instilling a child with honesty, the benefits lead to a child who is self-assured and has moral integrity. When a child becomes a trustworthy adult, doors of opportunity await them.
How Can Parents Instill Honesty in Their Child?
Modeling the desired behavior is crucial for success in helping a child become honest. As a parent, we often make the mistake of telling those “little white lies” on a regular basis and do not even realize what we are doing to our children.
How often have you lied to a telemarketer or refused to come to the phone, making up an excuse? Do your children see you telling lies on a regular basis? We all make the mistake of forgetting our children are watching us all the time. We tell a friend their new haircut looks great and then we get home and say what we really feel. Is this the proper way for us to model honest behavior? After all, children are going to pay attention more to what we do than what we say!
These tips can help parents instill honesty in their child:
* Try to avoid lying in front of your children. If you do find you have lied, explain why you did. Use this as a lesson to help a child understand why it may have been better had you not lied and what you could do differently in the future.
* Do not attempt to trap a child in a lie, even if you are positive they are about to. Allow them time to talk to you and reveal the truth in their own way.
* Do not confront a child with their lie if you are upset or angry because you will be more likely to be overly harsh in your conversation and the punishment you choose.
* Begin teaching smaller children the importance of honesty at an early age. If honesty is required from an early age, a child is less likely to develop lying habits.
* Older children can be taught the valuable lesson of honesty by informing them of the devastating consequences of dishonesty in relationships. They need to know once trust has been broken, it can be very difficult to mend.
Because a fear of punishment is the most common reason adults and children lie, it is important punishments are approached carefully. Punishments should be put in place before a child ever lies. It is a good idea to have a warning system in place so a child does not get punished for their first offense. The punishment should match the severity of the lie and the parent needs to be sure they do not close their child off to the point they avoid open communication in the future.
Instilling Discipline Begins at Home But Should Not Stop There
Honesty is a crucial life skill every child must master before they step out into adulthood and are on their own. If this life skill is not taught from an early age, it will become increasingly difficult for a parent to pursue because their child will have already developed bad habits. The more a child is allowed to lie and get away with it, the easier it becomes.
A big part of teaching a child honesty is being there for them no matter what. They need to know they can come to you, no matter what they may have done, and your thoughts towards them will not change. They need to feel comfortable opening up to you and becoming vulnerable. If you can successfully foster that type of relationship with your child, they are going to be more open and honest with you and there will be fewer episodes of lying to deal with.
Discipline is a big part of honesty and a child who is disciplined will be better able to self-regulate themselves. It is important to note discipline is not just punishment. Living a disciplined life means having order and not chaos. It means being held to your honor and guarding your reputation against anything that might arise and cause it to be tarnished.
While some parents enroll their kids in the Boy Scouts or make them join a sports team to gain a code of honor, this is not going to be beneficial if the child is not being disciplined at home. They need to be held accountable for the things they say and do. No group or mentor can instill honesty without the intervention of the parents or caregiver.
Martial Arts Can Add Discipline to a Child’s Life
Martial Arts is a practice that can change a wayward child if they have the full support of their parents. When a child is involved in Martial Arts, they must be held accountable to their sensei and fellow classmates. Lying is something that can be detrimental to training and is not accepted in any form. Not only is a child expected to be honest to others, they must also be honest with themselves.
A bond must develop between a student and their Martial Arts instructor but it can not develop properly if both parties are not honest. From the moment a child is enrolled in Martial Arts training, they are taught to be honest with themselves. Self-deception is one of the most destructive of lies because it can deeply affect a child’s ability to prosper in school, at home, and in life. Self-deception is one of the easiest bad habits to master because it is very difficult for others to detect since it is all done internally.
Martial Arts aids in the development of integrity which is a crucial part of becoming an adult. The instructors help kids to fully address their shortcomings instead of making excuses for them and inadvertently lying. When a kid is being taught honesty at home and is involved in Martial Arts training that is further instilling honesty, they will begin to change in positive ways and lying will no longer be a part of their psyche.
Learning the discipline of Martial Arts requires a child to be held responsible for their own actions. If a child is allowed to make excuses for their behavior, they are likely to end up becoming the type of person that fails at everything in life. When a child is training in Martial Arts, they must be disciplined in their training and practice. If they fail when tested, they will have no one to blame but themselves so they learn they cannot cover up their failures with lies.
When Martial Arts is combined with a strong focus of honesty at home, kids learn this crucial life skill and develop a strong sense of pride in becoming a trustworthy individual. Their reputation will become something they treasure instead of something they disrespect and do not hold in high regard.
Anyone who is a parent knows parenting is not easy, even if you have a model child. We always second-guess ourselves and worry whether or not we are making the right decisions in parenting. If a parent works on practicing honesty themselves and requiring it of their child, they can instill honesty in a profound way. Adding Martial Arts training can further the honesty lessons a child receives, giving rise to kids who are self-confident and honorable in their words and actions.