The tween years, from ages nine to twelve, are a time of exploration and testing rules.
Many children develop their personal ideals of what is right and wrong during these years.
Rather than doing things just because mom and dad say so, children at this age begin to do things based on what they feel is right and wrong.
For this reason, the concept or moral of honesty must be strongly emphasized during this period. Hopefully you have emphasized this concept from birth, but this is the time that will influence their adult and teenage years.
Fortunately there are easy ways to make this concept come through without seeming like the parent that is untrusting.
Lead by Example
The first aspect of teaching honesty is by giving a living example. Your children are not babies anymore and they will realize if you say one thing and do another.
Make sure you are being honest and trustworthy in the way you deal with people in your life, especially your children.
What may seem like a small “white lie” to you may seem like complete dishonesty to your children. Make sure that you are careful with what you do or say.
Something as simple as telling a friend they look great, and then making a snide comment when they are gone, will be taken as a sign that this behavior is OK.
Make Your Emphasis Honesty Not Dishonesty
If your child feels you are spending all your time watching for dishonesty rather than honesty, they may use it against you. It is not uncommon for children at this age to pick something they know that draws attention and use it.
You do not want your child looking to you for the wrong type of attention. Instead you should focus on the honest things that happen and brag on or reward your children for these acts. Positive reinforcement often sees greater rewards than negative.
Use Example to Teach This Lesson
There are many examples of honesty and dishonesty in popular culture and books. Use these examples to teach your tween how things can go right or wrong by either telling the truth or lying. You can also use examples from your life or your child’s.
For example, if your child is deceived by a friend, use this experience to show how bad it feels to be lied to. You can also use this to show how quickly one little lie can end an otherwise great relationship. Once your child understands the impact of lying they will be less likely to tell one.
Open the Communication Lines
Make sure you have an open relationship with your children. If your tween feels they will get in trouble or be yelled at for telling the truth, they might be inclined to lie.
You have to understand that there will be times that you don’t want to know the truth, but you still have to be your tween’s parent. Sometimes hearing the truth hurts, but hearing it can help develop a more honest relationship.