Summer is a great time to focus on helping our children build godly character because many homeschoolers are not as busy also trying to fit in the many academic studies we cover during the school year. (Other than what naturally happens over the summer!)
Last summer, I shared posts on how to build the following character traits in your children: obedience, gratefulness, self-control, kindness, and responsibility. Check out those posts if you haven’t already seen them! (I’ve linked them to the respective words above.)
Today, let’s talk about some ideas on how to build the character quality of honesty in your children.
Being dishonest is a definite temptation for little ones. The temptation to fudge a little on the truth, or to tell an outright lie in order to stay out of trouble is so strong! Dishonesty is such a sly thing. Even as adults we can struggle with it. We don’t want to look bad, so we tell a half-truth to make ourselves appear to be better than we actually are. Dishonesty is a sin issue that can carry on into adulthood if it’s not dealt with properly in childhood.
My Bible dictionary defines honesty as displaying truthfulness and integrity, being upright, not deceptive but rather sincere. As you well know, the opposite of honesty is dishonesty and lying.
God takes lying seriously. Part of the 10 commandments found in Leviticus 19:11 says this: “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.” Proverbs 12:22 says “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” God hates lying so much he mentions it twice in Proverbs 6:16-19: “There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
Unfortunately, lying is a big problem in our society, even among Christians! People justify their lies in many different ways, and certain types of dishonesty are even socially acceptable in our society today. I did some reading on lying to learn more about it. According to a post by “The Hope Line”, there are 8 different types of lies!
There are white lies, which are considered small and less serious because they’re told to keep from hurting someone’s feelings. There are broken promises, lies of fabrication (spreading rumors), bold-faced lies (“I didn’t take a cookie, Mommy!”), lies of deception to make ourselves look good, lies of exaggeration, plagiarism, and compulsive lying. I would also add that cheating is a form of lying as well. Check out the blog post on “The Hope Line” to learn more about each of these types of lies.
God hates ANY type of lie! He hates a lying tongue, and lying lips are an abomination to Him. Lying is a sin and we need to see it as that and help our children to see it as that as well.
- The first and most important thing you can do is MODEL HONESTY to your children! Yes, to be totally honest (pun intended ?), your children are more likely to be honest people if they see their parents modeling honesty in their lives. This is convicting, isn’t it? Because our society has allowed lying to become such an acceptable thing, we can fall into it very easily. This is an area of sin that I think we all have been guilty of. I’ve been convicted even as I’ve been writing this blog post! Ask the Lord to help you recognize when you are not being honest, and confess to Him and to your children when you fail in this area. Make things right if you’ve lied, and apologize to your children too if they have observed you lying or fudging the truth.
- Be proactive and teach your children the importance of being honest: There are many great ways to be proactive regarding teaching honesty.
- Do a Bible study on honesty with your children:
- Kids of Integrity by Focus on the Family is a great resource for studies on character qualities – they have a good study for young children on honesty.
- Over the Moon by Pam Dana has a wonderful object lesson to teach about honesty.
- Confessions of a Homeschooler has a great study on honesty you can download for free:
- Read scripture related to honesty and discuss with your children. Memorize them together. (Leviticus 19:11, Proverbs 12:22, Proverbs 6:16-19, Proverbs 26:28, Ephesians 4:15)
- Read the story of Joseph in the Bible and discuss how his brothers were dishonest and what happened to them. Also, make a point of talking about how Joseph was honest and how God blessed him. (Genesis 37, 39-42)
- Also, for teens: There is a youth group study on honesty that could be adapted to a homeschool environment.
- Read or listen to stories about honesty:
- Adventures in Odyssey: Honesty
- Veggie Tales: Pistachio
- Truthy Ruthy by Sari Barel (free on Amazon in the Kindle version)
- Telling the Truth: Learning about Honesty, Integrity and Trustworthiness by Regina G. Burch
- The Boy who Cried Wolf (Level 3 reader) by Lee Wildish
- The Emperors New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson
- Eli’s Lie-O-Meter by Sandra Levins
- The Berenstain Bears and the Truth by Stan and Jan Berenstain
- Play games or do activities related to honesty:
- Teachers Pay Teachers has a pack of honesty activities for $3.75.
- Honesty Pays: a game to play with your children
- Trustworthy Flower pot craft
- A BOY’S LESSONS IN DISHONESTY (FREE CHARACTER TRAINING LESSON) by the Imperfect Homemaker
- Encourage honesty in your home:
- Talk about how important it is for people to trust us, and remind them of this truth:
- Look for examples around you (on T.V., with others, etc.) where you can show how honesty was a good thing, or where dishonesty caused problems. Without gossiping or slandering someone, talk about those instances and what the person did well, or what they could have done differently for a better outcome.
- When you see one of your children exhibit honesty in a situation, praise them! Point it out and make a big deal about how proud you are of them for being honest.
- Use teachable moments:
When we catch our children in a lie, we have a great opportunity to help them build character in this area of honesty. This is one of those character qualities where we really want to capitalize on the teachable moments when we catch our children in a lie, even a little white lie.
If you know your child has lied to you, take them aside and lovingly confront them with the sin of lying. Share the scriptures I listed above with them. If they don’t readily confess, pray with them and continue to pray for them asking God to help them admit their sin.
Consequences are important for breaking a sin habit, if you want to help your child become a trustworthy and honest individual, they need to learn that any type of lying is NOT acceptable. So set consequences ahead of time for when your child sins by lying and be sure to follow through.
One memorable teachable moment we had when our children were elementary school age was when one of our boys was dishonest with his math. He liked to know right away after he did a problem if he got the answer right, so I allowed him to check the answer key at times to see if he was right. One day I was correcting his math and I found he had written, “Answers may vary” for one of his answers. Hmmm…. Very suspicious, wouldn’t you say?
We definitely used that teachable moment to talk about the seriousness of cheating and how that really steals our opportunity to learn. Plus, it makes us untrustworthy, and that is not something we want to be. I don’t remember the consequences completely, but I do know he had to earn our trust back before he could use the answer key to check his answers again! (he did give me permission to put this story in by the way) 🙂
- Pray for yourself and your children that God will make you aware when you sin by being dishonest and that His Holy Spirit will help you and your children to be people of integrity, honest and trustworthy.
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