Five-year-old children often seem like small adults, and many people overestimate their brain capacity as a result. Studies have shown that our brains continue to grow until we are 25 years old, and young children sometimes struggle with understanding why lying is wrong. Be patient with your children; persistent education will help them learn the importance of honesty over time.
One mistake parents make is to punish their children excessively after they have been honest. In some cases, this practice can be counterproductive. Children who learn that they are punished after coming clean about certain events may get the impression that it is better to lie. Even if your child must face repercussions after coming clean about something he or she is done, thank him or her for being honest.
Build a Relationship
Children who have strong relationships with their parents are often more worried about disappointing their parents and potential punishments. By taking steps to foster a strong relationship, you may be able to encourage your children to view honesty as a means of holding up their end of the relationship. A bit of respect can go a long way toward encouraging your children to be honest with you.
Although children are too young to understand the concept of honesty in the abstract, they do understand how hurtful it can be to be lied to. Ask your children how they feel when someone lies to them, and explain to them that this disappointment is natural. It is easier to encourage your children to be honest if they know how dishonesty makes others feel.
Children are often smarter than we give them credit for; sometimes simply explaining the disappointment that results from dishonesty may be enough to teach them how important telling the truth is.
Fortunately, raising an honest, virtuous child is not as difficult as many imagine. By reinforcing the importance of honesty and expressing disappointment if your child lies, you can teach them the importance of telling the truth.