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The Blessing of Honesty: Teaching Children to Value Truth

christian values honesty integrity trustworthiness values Apr 26, 2024

The Blessing of Honesty: Teaching Children to Value Truth 

Honesty is one of the most essential values we can teach our children. It’s something we all can appreciate because it has the power to build trust and strengthen relationships, shape character, and align us with the truth of God’s word. It’s a commitment to living genuinely and authentically in our lives. Children, though, can have a tough time mastering the concept at a young age because our human inclination is often to take the “path of least resistance”.  

Sometimes, rather than admit they made a mistake, it can feel easier to stay silent or even blame someone else. My 4-year-old son, just this week, shared a long and compelling story about how the kittens and the dog must’ve worked together to put the toilet seat up, because naturally, it wasn’t him.  


The Blessing of Honesty: Teaching Children to Value Truth 

Honesty is fundamental in our lives as followers of Christ. It’s often helpful to see honesty as a way of life rather than simply ‘avoiding lies’. Teaching our kids to be honest is critical, especially today, when they're often faced with a culture that tends to intentionally blur the lines between true and false as often as possible. As a Christian parent, your goal is to help them understand why being truthful matters and how it can shape their entire lives in a positive way. 

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Why Honesty Matters as a Christian 

The Bible places a strong emphasis on being truthful. Consider how Proverbs 12:22 points out, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” This scripture doesn't just tell us that God dislikes lies; it shows us that living truthfully makes us a joy to our Lord. Ephesians 4:25 teaches us, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.By teaching our children honesty, we are setting them on a path where their actions and their hearts can reflect the honesty and integrity of Jesus, and their character can be pleasing to God.   

We are instilling in them a worldview that values transparency and trustworthiness. This foundational truth will impact how they relate to others, who they welcome into their circle of influence, how they face challenges, and ultimately, how they view themselves and their place in the world. 


Building Trust with Honesty 

One of the most significant benefits of honesty is trust. Trust is the foundation of any strong relationship—whether it's between family members, friends, or even classmates. When children learn that being honest strengthens relationships, they understand its value in a new light. An honest home is a place where everyone can feel secure, loved, and valued for who they are, and be comfortable admitting their faults. This security plays a crucial role as our children grow and learn to navigate the world outside our homes.  


How to Encourage Honesty in Our Kids 

With my 4 year-old-son, he often sighs and says dramatically, “Okayyyy- I’ll tell you,” once I prompt him to tell the truth instead of his imaginative (often entertaining) stories. At this stage, I assume his intent is led by an appreciation for theatrics, and a bit of boredom towards the sometimes-uninteresting truth, rather than a genuine desire to deceive. The heart behind the action matters, of course, but we can also use these moments as teaching opportunities of the values we wish to instill. 

Understand that you may need to remind your children how important honesty is, regularly, when they are young. With older children, I often remind them that no matter what they have done, being dishonest is worse than that. Make sure to create a safe environment where they do not fear being truthful. While there may still be fair consequences for the actions, their honesty and integrity is both appreciated and recognized. 

Teaching children the value of honesty requires creating an environment where truthfulness is lived and valued daily.  

It starts at home and it starts with us.  


Here are some ways to encourage honesty in your children:  

Be a Role Model: Your children watch you even more closely than you might realize. If they see you being truthful, even when it's hard or could have consequences, they’ll learn the importance of truth in real-life situations. What they see you do carries more weight than what they hear you say. When you make a mistake, admit it openly. Show your children how to take responsibility and rectify the situation. This transparency teaches them that integrity matters, even though it’s not always easy. It also helps them understand that everyone, even grown ups, can make mistakes and handle them truthfully.  

Celebrate Truth-Telling: It’s important to actively acknowledge and praise your child when they choose honesty, especially in situations where telling the truth might have been challenging. This positive reinforcement can have a significant influence on their future behavior. When children are recognized for being truthful, they understand that honesty is not only the right choice but is also appreciated and valued by those they look up to. 

Encourage Open Communication: Make sure your children know that they can talk to you about anything. When they feel safe, they’re more likely to be honest. Avoid overreacting if the truth is something hard to hear. Instead, thank them for their honesty and discuss the issue calmly, even if you need to come back to it later. When children share their experiences and challenges, listen without immediate judgment or criticism. Show appreciation for their honesty, even if the content is uncomfortable or disappointing. This reassurance builds their confidence and reinforces that being truthful doesn't lead to love being withdrawn. It teaches them that honesty is the foundation of trust and security in relationships. 

Teach About Consequences: While it’s important to encourage honesty, it's also important to discuss the consequences of dishonesty. Go beyond simply stating that "lying is bad" and explore real-life implications that help your children understand what can happen because of lying, in addition to the benefits of being honest. Use real examples where appropriate, or discuss hypothetical situations to illustrate these outcomes. Discuss how dishonesty can damage relationships, erode trust, and lead to a cycle of lies where one must be told to cover another. You can use biblical stories and examples from your own experiences to illustrate these points. These discussions can help children understand the serious moral and spiritual ramifications of dishonest behavior. 

Use Stories to Teach: Books and stories are great tools for illustrating lessons in honesty. They can show, rather than just tell, the consequences of lies and the rewards of being truthful. Stories with characters who face moral dilemmas about lying or telling the truth can be particularly impactful. These narratives provide a safe space for children to explore the consequences of dishonesty and the benefits of integrity without personal risk. After reading such stories, engage your children in discussions about what they would do in similar situations and why honesty matters. This not only helps solidify the value of honesty but also improves their empathy and decision-making skills.  

My new Christian children’s book "Happy Are the People," does this really well and opens the door for a great conversation about truth in a way kids can understand and enjoy. By incorporating this book into your family's reading routine, you're providing your children with a tool that supports the lessons you're teaching them about honesty (and more) every day. It's my hope that this will not only entertain your children but also help them appreciate the value of being truthful in a way that resonates with their everyday experiences. 


How Honesty Shapes Lives 

Honesty does more than just keep us out of trouble; it shapes our lives and influences our relationships and our inner character. Let's take a closer look at how honesty impacts various aspects of life, especially for children growing in their faith and social environments. 


How Honesty Impacts Various Areas of Life: 

Building Trustworthy Relationships: When we’re honest, we lay a strong foundation for trust. This trust is essential in forming relationships that are deep and lasting. When children learn that their honesty earns them trust and respect, they feel more secure and valued. This encourages them to continue being honest, which strengthens their relationships further. Over time, they become known as reliable and trustworthy individuals, qualities that are highly valued in all areas of life. 

Strengthening Moral Integrity: Honesty is a key component of moral integrity, which is essentially the practice of consistently aligning one's actions with their values. For children, learning to live honestly helps them develop a clear sense of right and wrong. Each honest action reinforces their identity as individuals who choose to do right, even when it’s difficult. This integrity brings them peace and self-respect because they know they are living true to their values. This consistency between belief and behavior not only guides them through childhood but also shapes them into adults who can navigate life’s challenges with moral clarity. 

Fostering Spiritual Growth: Honesty is an important aspect of spiritual development. This supports a genuine relationship with God, where children learn to communicate with Him openly and honestly. In prayer, they learn to express their true feelings, doubts, and fears, without hiding behind pretenses. This open line of communication with God encourages them to reflect on their own lives in light of Biblical truths. As they grow, their honest relationship with God becomes a source of strength and comfort, guiding them in their daily decisions and interactions. 

Facing Challenges Boldly: Children who practice honesty grow into adults who don't hide from the truth. This bravery helps them face life's challenges more effectively because they're used to dealing with things as they are, not as they wish they could be. 

Developing Self-Respect: When kids choose honesty, they develop a healthy sense of pride and self-respect. They know they are doing the right thing, which is rewarding in itself. This and the reputation they build as being trustworthy individuals in a world where this can be a rare quality, builds their inner strength and confidence. 


By instilling in children a worldview that treasures honesty, we are equipping them with a key to navigating life and seeing the world not only as it is but also as it could be – a place where integrity guides actions and decisions. This way of living influences everything from their relationships to their self-image and their spiritual life, setting them on a path towards a fulfilling and God-honoring life.  

I hope this discussion on honesty has provided you with useful insights and practical ways to foster this valuable quality in your children. Let's commit to being diligent in this task, ensuring our children understand the beauty and strength found in living truthfully. Next week, we'll explore the virtue of kindness and discover how we can help our children become more empathetic and caring individuals.