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We all want to raise honest kids. We want to trust that we'll get the real story when we ask them what's going on. We hope kids will trust us with small issues as well as big ones.

So how do we raise honest kids?


As I was putting my 6-year-old daughter to bed one night, she said, "Mommy, my monkey looks different. Did she grow?" She's slept with this stuffed monkey since she was two. More accurately, she's slept with one of several identical monkeys we purchased "just in case" something happened to one of them.

Of course, her monkey hadn't grown. The one she'd been snuggling to sleep for the past few months had gotten pretty raggedy so I'd replaced it with the newest, least bedraggled one she has. It's fluffier. Its head doesn't flop over like the others.

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This was one of those parenting moments that momentarily stumped me.

Of course I believe in raising honest kids, and I know the importance of modeling honesty to accomplish that. Still, I wondered if I were betraying her trust in some other way by confessing that we had monkey-doubles.

Hoping for the best, I did what I knew I had to do. Holding her in the darkness, I confessed, "No, your monkey didn't grow. We have more than one monkey. When you were littler, we bought extras to make sure you'd always have a clean one to sleep with, or a backup if something happened to her. This one is fluffier because she's newer."

She was silent for a minute. I honored the quiet space in conversation and let her process. Then I added lightly, "It's kind of like we have our own private monkey party."

She giggled. She was okay. The next day, she said nothing of it. Honesty had been the right call. Of course it had been.

Why is this about my own decision whether to be honest, though, instead of about my child's honesty or lack thereof? It's because as her parent, I'm the role model. And I had an opportunity to be one… or not.

Adults tend to overthink this sometimes. The honesty we model is always the right path for raising honest kids.

Raising honest kids is about being honest with them ourselves—even when it's hard.

Of course we need to keep our honesty age-appropriate. But it's honesty all the same.

We owe it to our kids to be transparent, even when our inclination might be to lie. Our truthfulness helps shape their moral character. Science tells us that the more honest we are with our kids, the more likely we are to raise honest kids.

What about kids who are already in the "habit" of lying? Don't all kids lie?

Here's where some knowledge of child development comes into play. Indeed, children between the ages of two and four already start to engage in what adults perceive as lying. However, "lying" is not as clear as it seems.

For young children: Up to about age 5

Lying has an inherently negative connotation for adults, as it should. So much of their world is based on play that they might not realize what they said didn't actually happen. Their brains simply haven't developed enough yet to keep track of the difference. So, rather than getting upset that our child has "intentionally" lied to us, reframe it as their brain having been stuck in fantasy play.

Perhaps surprisingly, not only is it developmentally normal, it's also healthy and appropriate for them to do this. An example of this would be, "My doll threw my food."

For slightly older kids: Up to about age 8

They may lie for the same reason their younger counterparts do. Play is still a common state of mind for them. Alternatively, they may lie to suggest what they wish had happened. It's not necessarily a conscious or malicious plan; it can come from regret or embarrassment.

An example of this would be, "I don't know how the ball broke the window. Someone else did it." It can be helpful for the adult to translate their statement to, "I wish I hadn't broken the window." Understanding the child's internal motivation for the lie can be beneficial.

Of course, not all lies are acceptable and not all lies are developmentally appropriate. Raising honest kids can be harder for some families than others. Reach out to a professional family counselor or clinician to discuss if you're concerned.

What else can we do to raise honest kids? Use science-backed positive parenting based on connection rather than shaming or punitive measures when children lie. Be a playful parent as often as possible to fully engage your kids. And most of all, give them grace when they do slip up—after all, you're raising humans and doing the best we can.

This post was originally published on the author's blog.

It's official: You have a 1-year-old. Cue all the happy tears! As you think back over the past 12 months, there were undoubtedly highs and lows. Your baby's transformation from sleepy newborn to active toddler is major. But your own transformation shouldn't be underestimated either, mama. Just think of how much you've learned and grown in just one year!

Throughout this past year, you came into your own as a mother, bonded with your baby and made memories you will cherish for a lifetime.

After one year on the job, you probably have your day-to-day routine down pat and feel confident saying "yes" to more opportunities again—whether it's new work opportunities or a skill you want to learn during those rare moments of downtime.

As you look ahead, here are a few of our favorite items for the next stage: Life with a 1-year-old:

For educational play: Fisher-Price Little People farm set

Fisher Price Farm

Little People toys from Fisher-Price are classics for good reason: They feel nostalgic and promote imaginative play. This is one collection that will get use for years and years to come.

$35.49

For those precious little feet: Surprize sneakers

Stride Rite Sneaker

As your baby starts to take their first steps, you'll want to get them used to wearing shoes. Podiatrists recommend looking for shoes that have a stiff heel, flexible toe box and rigid middle.

$32.99

For introducing close-ended play: Melissa & Doug jumbo knob puzzles

Melissa and Doug Puzzle

Puzzles are fun, but they also help teach persistence, sorting skills and more. This kind of close-ended play, where your child can get to the satisfying conclusion of a completed picture, can help with building attention.

$19.99

For open-ended play: Fat Brain toy suction cups

Fat Brain Cups

On the other side of the coin, open-ended play asks for more creativity and social interaction. When there isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, your little one will feel encouraged to use their imagination and free-thinking skills.

$14.99

For bath time splashes: Skip Hop pour and stack bath buckets

Skip Hop

Bath time doesn't have to be all about washing and cleaning. It can also be a great opportunity for sensory play, especially with some fun bath toys in the mix.

$9.79

For showing your skin some love: Honest Beauty deep hydration face cream

Honest beauty

You've probably streamlined your beauty routine in the past year due to time limitations, but one thing you shouldn't skimp on? A moment of self-care. A good face cream can improve the quality of your skin and help enhance your natural glow.

$27.99

For your busy schedule: Ubrands dry erase calendar

Dry erase board

More time in the home means more dishes, dust and dirt to clean up. Rather than nightly debates about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher, get everyone in the family on the same page with a visible chores calendar.

$14.59

For easy style: A New Day t-shirt dress

A new Day

When you're a mama, getting dressed is all about ease and comfort. This dress is stylish, yet relaxed enough to wear around the house when you are ready to change out of yoga pants. Add a nice jacket or some fun earrings for a virtual-meeting-ready look!

$20

For those birthday pictures: Project 62 matted frame

Project 62

Baby's first birthday is a great occasion to take lots of pictures. These will definitely be frame-worthy, so display them in style with this beautiful piece.

$30

For some well-deserved rest: Threshold weighted blanket

Threshold weighted blanket

There's no way to really catch up on the sleep you lost during the past year, but you can start having sweeter dreams now with help from a weighted blanket. Seriously, people rave about these for good reason!

$69

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.

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The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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