Integrity with other individuals, with institutions, with society, with self. The inner strength and confidence that is bred by exacting truthfulness and trustworthiness.
Method for Preschoolers: The Honesty About Feelings Game
This will help small children realize that feelings are caused by what has happened — and that it is okay to feel things and okay to tell others honestly how we feel. Go through a magazine (one with lots of ads and colored pictures) and point at faces saying, “How do you think he feels?” Then say, “Why do you think he feels that way?” Then say, “Is it okay to feel that way?”
Help children to identify feelings and their probable causes and to know that it’s okay to feel those things and to tell other people how they feel.
Method for Elementary Age: The Honesty Under Pressure Award
This is a motivational way to get children to evaluate their personal honesty every week. On Sundays (or whatever day you most often get your whole family together for a meal) ask, “Who had a situation this past week where it was a challenge to be honest?” Have an “award” on hand to give to the person who remembers the best incident of being honest. A piece of construction paper or colored card with a neatly printed H.U.P. (Honesty Under Pressure) will do nicely as the award. Let the child (or adult) who wins put it on his bedroom door during the week until it is awarded again the next week.
After a couple of weeks of “getting used to,” you will find that children are thinking hard about their behavior of the past week in hopes of winning the award. And it is this kind of thinking and recognition that strongly reinforces honesty.
Method for Adolescents: Share Your Own Honesty Dilemmas
This can help demonstrate to older children that you are willing to be honest with them — even about your own struggles. Be brave enough to tell your children about times when you have had a hard time being honest. Tell them “positive” incidents when you were honest and negative ones when you weren’t — and tell them about any current situations where you are struggling to be completely honest.
This kind of sharing is quite a compliment to your older children because it expresses your confidence in their maturity. Nothing will inspire more trust from them or encourage them more to share their struggles with you.