The Character Construction Site:
February

Value: HONESTY

Introduction

  • Honesty is the best policy. 
  • Honesty builds trust.
  • Honesty builds self confidence.

Definition of Honesty
Honesty with individuals, with institutions, with society, with self.  The inner strength and confidence that is bred by exacting truthfulness, trustworthiness, and integrity. 

Guidelines

  • Be completely honest with your children
  • Give praise and the chance to “start over”. 
  • Point out consequences for honesty and dishonesty in real life situations. 

Family Activities

Elementary

Memorizing

  • Honesty is the best policy.  -Anonymous
  • You never go wrong with the truth. - Anonymous
  • The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable for a while. -Laura and Malcolm Gauld

The Honesty Pact
Decide in advance to be strictly honest with each other as a family.  Ask the children if they know what a pact is and then explain it.  Suggest that you all have a pact of strict honesty with each other so that every family member can explicitly trust every other family member.  Write up a short pact, starting with the words “We promise each other…”  Let everyone sign the pact.  Review it weekly.

The Honesty-Under-Pressure Award
This is a motivational way to get children to evaluate their personal honesty every week.  At the weekly family meeting ask, “Who had a situation this past week where it was a challenge to be honest?”  Have an award on hand to hand to the person who remembers the best incident of being honest.  The award can be a colored index card with the letters H.U.P.  (Honesty Under Pressure).  The child or adult who wins it can put it on his or her bedroom door during the week until it is awarded again the next week.

Story: “Isabel’s Little Lie”
This story can illustrate how one lie can lead to another and produce serious consequences:

One day Isabel told a little lie.  She wasn’t supposed to feed her dinner to her dog, Barker, but she did.  When Isabel’s mom commented that her plate was clean, Isabel said that she had eaten it all.  (That was a little lie, wasn’t it?)  The dinner was chicken, and Barker got a bone in his throat.  Pretty soon he started to cough and snort and act very uncomfortable.

 “Do you know what is wrong with Barker?” asked Mother.  “No,” said Isabel.  (That was another lie, wasn’t it?  But Isabel had to do it so that Mother wouldn’t know she told the first lie.)

“Did Barker eat something, Isabel?” Mother asked as she looked in Barker’s mouth. 

“I don’t know, Mommy.” (That was another lie, wasn’t it?  But she didn’t want her mother to know about the first two lies.)

Barker got worse, and Mother took him to the animal hospital.  Isabel went too.  “What happened to the dog?” asked the vet.  “We don’t know,” said Isabel.  (That was another lie, wasn’t it?  But if Isabel has told, then Mother and the dog doctor would know that she had lied before.)  The dog doctor said, “If it’s just a bone, we could get it out with an instrument, but it might be glass, so we may have to operate.”

Isabel decided it was time to tell the truth.  She said, “It’s a bone, and I did know Barker ate it, and I didn’t eat all my dinner, and I did give it to Barker, and I won’t tell lies anymore.”  Isabel started to cry, but her mother loved her and she decided she really would tell the truth from then on.  

The Act It Out Game
This game can help children identify honest emotions -in themselves and in others-and to know that it is okay to feel and to talk about these emotions. 

Write each adjective in the list below on a small card.  Have each family member draw a card from the pile.  Each player has a minute to act out the gestures, facial expressions, and other actions that are associated with the word on the card.  Eventually the children will learn how to better display the emotions they feel as well as how to recognize them in others.  The idea is to help children accept their own emotions, recognize how others are feeling, and be able to talk honestly about both. 

Emotions, Feelings & Attitudes
 

Loving

Concerned

Kind

Envious

Resentful

Remorseful

Mad

Trusting

Optimistic

Angry

Mean

Envious

Sad

Unfriendly

Empathetic

Loyal

Sensitive

Sly

Glad

Defensive

Appreciative

Nice

Affectionate

Serene

Grateful

Sorry

Friendly

Free

Respectful

Untruthful

Active

Rude

Fair

Sorry

Calm

Warm

Spoiled

Cheerful

Tender

Responsible

Reliable

Cooperative

Selfish

Helpful

Honorable

Foolish

Greedy

Unfair

Insensitive

Unequal

Thoughtful

Forgiving

Interested

Gentle

Passive

Hurt

Jealous

Guilty

Annoyed

Disgusted

Remorseful

Cowardly

 

 

 

 

      

Junior High

Memorization

  • Honesty is the best policy.  -Anonymous
  • You never go wrong with the truth.  -Anonymous
  • The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable for a while.  -Laura and Malcolm Gauld

Analyze Types of Dishonesty
There are really a lot of different types of honesty and dishonesty.  Let’s see how many we can list.  Keep the list growing by asking questions such as What are some kinds of dishonesty to parents, self, teachers, others, friends, people you don’t like and so on…

  • Cheating on tests
  • Cheating on taxes
  • Saying you didn’t do something when you did to avoid trouble.
  • Exaggerating
  • Twisting the truth a little so it doesn’t sound so bad.
  • Lying to protect yourself.
  • Lying to protect someone else.
  • Calling a ball out when you’re not sure.
  • Telling someone they look nice when they really don’t. (flattery)
  • Not being able to admit when you are scared, worried or insecure.
  • Saying you got in earlier than you really did.

Squeaky Clean Honesty
There is a feeling of inner confidence and security that comes with uncompromising honesty, and we should help our children to have that power even if we have not always had it

Ask, “Are any of these types of dishonesty okay?  What about white lies or little exaggerations?” 

Help them see that even “little lies” are usually unnecessary:  You can think a little harder and come up with an honest compliment; you don’t really need to exaggerate , etc.  If you’re going to be honest, why not be completely honest? 

Opposite Word:  Which Helps?  Which Hurts?
This activity can help children grasp the effects of honesty and dishonesty on people .  Ask for other words for these words:

    Dishonesty, deceptive, lie, cheat…

Then ask how these words hurt and whom they hurt.

Then ask how honesty can help and whom it can help.

Share Your Own Honesty Dilemmas
Share your challenges, struggles and triumphs with situations where you struggled to be honest.  This kind of sharing will inspire their trust and encourage them to share their struggles with you. 

The “What Would You Do?” Game
This game will help children think through situations in advance.  Help your children arrive at the conclusion (through the discussion of these situations) that most dishonesty seems to solve a short-term problem but leads to less confidence in self over the long run. 

Cheating.  You’re sitting in English class and do well on the first two parts of the test.  The last section is really stumping you and you are sure that the teacher took the questions from material that you are sure she forgot to tell you to read.  You are mad and feel that this is not your fault.  It’s very easy to see Jim’s answers across the aisle. 

Exaggerating.  You are the new kid in town.  You’ve made some friends at school.  At lunch, the group is asking you about what sports you did at your last school.  You are tempted to tell them that you started for the team when you were only a substitute. 

Protecting yourself. You go in an hour later than your curfew.  Your didn’t wake up when you came in.  It’s the next morning and they are asking you what time you came in.

These exercises were excerpted and adapted with the authors’ permission from Teaching Your Children Values by Linda and Richard Eyre, Simon and Schuster, Fireside, 1993.  For more information on their tapes, books and Homebase organization call (801) 581 - 0112.  This is an excellent book with a twelve-month values plan.

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