How to raise a child who is honest yet tactful

Parents play a vital role as a model of honesty. The key here is to teach your young one to resolve situations without having to lie, says Sumathi Jayaram, Principal of Julia Gabriel Centre.

Often, a child lies to protect herself against unpleasant consequences. But while a kindergartener can better hide the truth, maintaining the lies may still be difficult.

Related: You caught your child lying: What to do next

She might be struggling with following through with rules – for example, getting homework done before watching TV. 

Help her by guiding her regularly through these rules. Give encouraging feedback – point out when she’s being honest.

At this age, your child is a keen observer, so your message becomes undermined if she sees you being dishonest. 

As your child’s social cognition develops, she will begin to understand white lies, and that adults sometimes tell them to be diplomatic.

Related: How to teach children about white lies

For situations arising within her scope of understanding, help her focus on the positive aspects.

For example, if she received a gift she didn’t like, you can explain: “I know you don’t like the colour yellow, but Grandma bought you a toy truck because she knows you like vehicles. She also walked around many shops to specially buy you this gift. You can thank her honestly for it.”

It also helps if you are open with your little one. 

Read storybooks about honesty together, and discuss “white lies” in a bite-sized, age-appropriate context.

As you better understand the challenges she faces, you will become more equipped to guide her on the path of truth.

Related: Help your child face challenges optimistically and independently


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