Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Tweet About Teaching Children To Be Honest

I have a thing about integrity and especially how people teach chilren to be honest (and I worry about children whose parents don't teach them to be honest). At one time I had over 250 employees, and while the majority were honest there were some who were not. As I dealt with those who were not trustworthy, I definitely learned that children are more likely to be dishonest when they are punished for telling the truth. If a child breaks a neighbor's window, comes home and admits he broke the window, don't punish him for breaking the window but rather use this opportunity to do two things: 1) Praise him for being honest and thank him for telling the truth. Reinforcing desirable behavior will encourage him to repeat the behavior. 2) THEN teach him to take responsibility for his actions by calmly working out how he will pay to have the broken window replaced. When a child is punished for telling the truth, he/she quickly learns to lie and hope not to get caught. Integrity serves a child well all through his/her life, and accepting responsibility for his/her own behavior will ultimately be a benfit. Neither trait comes without consequences at times, but children become better adults and have brighter futures with these characteristics. Prisons are full of people who do not have these traits so lead children by example and hold them accountable but with encouragement and appreciation for honesty.

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