Did you hear the story about the Goodwill manager and his coworker who found stacks of $100 bills in blue envelopes stuffed in the pockets of donated suits and a bathrobe? They were stunned to find it added up to $43,000! They didn’t hesitate to call the police. Because the police found a wallet among the bills, they were able to track down the owner. He said, “I am really proud of those people at Goodwill. It makes me feel good there are people out there like that, especially in this day and age.” Here is the video of the story. Read the details and tell this story to your kids. Before saying anything yourself, ask the kids what they think about the story. Accept their feedback without criticism. From this, you can see where they stand on the virtue of honesty. Previously choose a few of the comments that followed this article. They were filled with people telling their stories of being honest. Share your favorites. Or if your kids are old enough, let them go online and read the comments and choose one or two favorites to share with the family. It’s our belief that there are far more honest people than dishonest. With so much dishonesty in the news, kids need to hear as many stories of people being honest as they can. When honesty is praised, it helps kids want to be like that.
Here are a few ways you can further teach this concept.
Ask your children to tell of a time when they made a decision to be honest. This can be with a teacher, a friend, or anyone. It won’t matter how small or insignificant the act may be. Maybe it was deciding not to cheat on a test, or when they found a coin and turned it in to the teacher or store owner. They need to know that any act of honesty is big and important. If they can’t think of one, that’s OK. Perhaps you could remind them of a time they were honest with you and praise them for it. Tell them to start noticing their acts of honesty and to tell you when they do something that shows they are honest. Ask them how it made them feel when they chose to be honest.
Have them be on the lookout for situations where a person chose to be honest. This can be in real life, in a movie, or a book. Being on the lookout for honest behavior will keep them aware of how important acts of honesty are. Have them tell the family about what they saw.
Tell them of an experience you had when you weren’t honest, and you regretted it. This needs to be something simple. Sometimes when we tell our children a story of when we wish we had made a better choice, it helps them. It lets them know that you know what it feels like to make that kind of a mistake. Let them know how bad it made you feel, and how you are trying to be an honest person just like they are.
Help them realize that if they tell something that isn’t true, they can apologize and make it right. They are not doomed. They can confess to you or whomever they were dishonest with, and ask for forgiveness. You can be an example of this by forgiving your children when they have been dishonest with you. That doesn’t mean they don’t have to pay the consequences, it just means that they can make amends and choose to be honest next time.
Understanding is vital
Children need a clear understanding of what honesty is. Look up the word in the dictionary. Talk about what it means. Here is some more information on the subject.