Telling the truth is an important moral and ethical virtue that kids need to learn as early as possible. It is a value that will have a huge impact on their character development as they grow. Engage your child in activities to teach and reinforce the concept of honesty and emphasize why lying is wrong.
Read Stories about Honesty
Help your child understand the importance of telling the truth through reading stories about characters who lied and the consequences it caused. For kids ages 4 and up, "Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie," by Laura Rankin tells the story of a little fox girl who lies about a toy belonging to her and how it turned into a huge problem. For kids 6 and up, "Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big," by Berkeley Breathed is about a boy who tells all kinds of fibs, and one day, his lies catch up to him. Talk to your child after reading the books about why the characters lied and what they learned about the importance of telling the truth.
Understanding Honesty and Lying
To help your child better understand why honesty is so important, set up a few demonstrative scenarios that can give her a visual understanding of honesty and lying. Create two obstacle courses in your back yard. One should be simple and the other one quite difficult. After your child goes through both, ask her which one was easier. Discuss how the one with all the obstacles represents lies that increasingly get bigger and harder to get through, which is why telling the truth is so much easier.
Role play scenarios with your child where she must decide between telling the truth and telling a lie. Have your spouse or partner participate as well. For one scenario, you and your spouse can pretend to be two children that are friends. One of you drops a dollar without realizing it and the other one picks it up and doesn't say anything. The person who drops the dollar asks the friend if he saw it, but he lies and says no. After the scene, ask your child to describe what happened and how she would feel if she had lost the dollar she earned, and how she felt to know a friend had lied to her. Let her show you the right way by re-doing the scene with your child demonstrating honest and immediately returning the dollar. Talk with her about how good it feels to tell the truth and do the right thing.
Play games with your child and her friends that reinforce the importance of being honest. Play an honesty trivia game, where you give scenarios to the kids about lying. You can give them options of three answers, with only one being the honest answer. The first kid to "buzz" in and give the correct answer wins a point. For another game, play "Truth Tag." The person who is "it" is known as the "lie chaser." The other kids run around yelling out fibs like, "I eat smelly socks for dinner!". The kids must go to a designated "jail area," until another player, the "truth fairy," tags them free only after they make a truthful statement. However, if the child who is freed gets tagged again, he becomes a lie chaser as well, and the game continues until all the "lies" are caught.