Reading cautionary tales like The Boy Who Cried Wolf and Pinocchio to little kids might not be the best way to teach them to tell the truth.
New research suggests stories that praise, rather than punish, characters for being honest are more effective.
“As parents of young children, we wanted to know how effective the stories actually are in promoting honesty,” says Victoria Talwar of McGill University’s educational psychology department. “Is it ‘in one ear, out the other,’ or do children listen and take the messages to heart?”
“We should not take it for granted that classic moral stories will automatically promote moral behaviors,” says Kang Lee of the University of Toronto.
Full story at Futurity.
While raising my kids, I tried several methods of getting them to tell the truth. One of the most effective I found was to have them apologize to the people their lie was about or who their lie was to. When they would tell me the hardest truths, I would talk with them and let them know how proud I was of them for having the courage to tell the truth, but let them know there had to be some consequence for that lie. Usually taking away some sort of privilege worked – be it games, television or a school function they wanted to attend.
Looking back, I can only recall a couple of times with each one, that we had to have any discussion at all. Thankfully, my boys were very honest.
For me, I think the biggest impact was a story my grandma told me. Keep in mind, I grew up in a family of Southern Baptists. They KNOW how to put the fear of God in ya – let me tell ya!
I was about nine when my grandma caught me in a lie. I had found hidden Christmas gifts at her house. When confronted, I lied. Grandma sat on the bed next to me and told me that I could tell all the lies I wanted to – but in the end, every truth would be revealed. At the end of times, when Jesus comes back, the whole sky would turn into one GIANT movie screen. As part of our judgment – everything we have ever done wrong, every lie we ever told would be shown for the whole world to see. She went on to tell me to think of how that would feel to have my family find out the truth that way – in front of everyone.
From that day on, the idea of the whole world seeing everything I have done wrong or lie I have told – haunted me! I mean, it REALLY haunted me.
Even to this day – that thought is locked in my mind. What if grandma was right? Do I really want to take that chance?
Do you have a certain method you have used to encourage your kids to tell, even the hardest truths?
What lesson did you learn, as a child, to make you want to be a better and honest person?