One of the goals of parenting and teaching children is to not only train children in academics, but also to instil positive character traits. All kids face the temptation of stretching the truth every once in a while, so adults can use activities that are fun while teaching principles of honesty.
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Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?
This is an older game that can be used to teach honesty in a fun way. An adult should choose one child to be "it" while the other children gather in a circle. The person who is "it" closes her eyes. A button, or other small object is passed from person to person until an amount of time passes. The adult could set a timer or play some music for the button passing time. When the person who is "it" opens her eyes the group says "Button, button, who's got the button?" while they are all pretending to hide the button in their hands. The person who is "it" will then guess a person. The person with the button can take a turn to be "it" next. While this game seems like simple fun, there's a desire for some kids to lie when they hold the button and the person who is "it" guesses their name. It feels like they're getting caught even though it's just fun. Adults can discuss why everyone needs to tell the truth, and how that keeps the game fun for everyone.
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Parents can use this activity at any time, and while it seems like just a fun story, it can teach children that not telling the truth, or exaggerating the facts in a story can sound silly to someone else. Choose an event that happened while you were with the child, and make it into a story. For instance, you can tell a story of how you went camping last summer. As you tell the story, insert five untruths or exaggerations into the tale. They can be anything from encountering a bear, to changing what colour tent you stayed in. See if the child can figure out the five facts that are not true in your story. The US Department of Education in "My Child's Academic Success" suggests having a conversation about how a child feels about a friend who tells lies, and whether she would trust that friend in the future. This activity is an effective way for children to hear how a tall tale sounds to other people and realise that those who exaggerate the truth may not be trustworthy.
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One of the many benefits of children's literature is its ability to teach a concept or character trait in a fun, interactive way. There are many books that tell stories about telling the truth, and some may be on a home bookshelf already. Children's Books Guide recommends several titles that deal with this topic: "Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big" by Berkeley Breathed "The Berenstain Bears and the Truth" by Stan & Jan Berenstain "Pinky Promise: A book about telling the truth" by Vanita Braver "The Berenstain Bears and the Excuse Note" by Stan & Jan Berenstain "Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie" by Laura Rankin Classics such as "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" and "The Emperor's New Clothes" are also well-known stories that teach a lesson of honesty.
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Most children enjoy watching television, and while limiting time in front of the screen is wise, parents and educators can use the time they are watching to reinforce lessons in honesty and telling the truth. "Pinocchio" is a classic Disney film in which the puppet's nose grows whenever he tells a lie. Despite his attempts to deny his dishonesty, Pinocchio learns that it is best to tell the truth from the start before things get complicated. VeggieTales cartoons have several videos on character. Another cartoon series that strives to impart character education is 3-2-1 Penguins. "Moon Menace on Planet Tell a Lie" teaches the lesson of being truthful in a fun way.
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"Pictionary" is a game that children love to play and it's easy to come up with a version that applies to whatever an adult is trying to teach. In this instance, adults can create many cards that show instances where a child will need to make a decision about whether he will tell the truth or a lie. For instance, write on cards situations like "broken mug," "puddle on kitchen floor," "dent on car," or "hole in jeans." Break into two teams and one side is the drawing team and the other is the guessing team. Set a timer for 30 seconds to see if they can guess the picture in that amount of time. Once the team guesses the picture, it's simple to have a short little discussion about the image. Questions like "What do you think happened to the mug?" and "What should the child who broke it do about it?" will allow kids to reflect on honesty. Adults can also discuss what the possible consequences might be for certain actions. For instance, if the mug broke by accident and he told the truth, there is no consequence. If he lied about breaking the mug, even though it was an accident, there would be a consequence. Reinforce the fact that consequences will be more severe if children are not honest.