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The Truth About Little White Lies: Teaching Honesty To Children

09/05/2014 02:03 pm ET | Updated Nov 05, 2014

As sages, we know that none of us go through our lives without telling fibs, or "little white lies". The value of truth must be taught to our children and grandchildren. Our obligation, as you well know, is to teach our children and grandchildren the value of honesty. The question is: how do we do this?

Tell a true story. Don't tell a fairy tale! A fairy tale is not true! Talk to your children or your grandchildren about a real life hero or heroine who was caught doing something wrong and has the courage (although afraid) to tell the truth. Sound good to you?

This is the approach my mother used when she taught my brother and I to value truth.

My mom told my brother and I the story of George Washington when he got caught fibbing. I have never forgotten her teaching. Nor has my brother. My mother told us "he was a hero and the first president of the United States of America". This got our attention. We wanted to know more. She went on to tell us how scared George was to tell his father he chopped down the cherry tree. But, dear children of mine, she went on to say, "he looked at his father and as scared as he was of his misdeed he had courage to face his father and tell the truth!" She went on to teach us to do the right thing so we would not have to think of lying.

As sages, we know positive outweighs negative. The positive approach tells a child or grandchild a story about a real person -- a person who had the courage to tell the truth. When it comes to George Washington, not only can they relate to that story, but it's also important to tell them that later on in his life, his great character lead him to become a national hero and the father of our country. I prefer the George Washington approach. Pinocchio, an imagined character, displays bratty and selfish traits -- not positive ones like George! And remember, he is a made-up character!

Let's take this one step further.

Your child tells you the truth about his or her wrongdoing. How do you handle yourself? Let's use grades as the topic. Your child tells you about a bad grade. It takes all of his courage to fess up. My suggestion is to praise the fact that he had courage to tell the truth. Please don't yell! Sit down together and work out a way to improve his grades. YOU ARE MOLDING HIS CHARACTER. YOU ARE TEACHING THE BENEFIT OF THE TRUTH, WHICH FAR OUTWEIGHS THE LIE. On the other hand, if he hides his grades do punish him by taking away his phone or iPad or a privilege. His wrongful action constitutes unacceptable behavior. This is a way of molding your child or grandchild into telling the truth.

Do Something GOOD Today: Teach your children or grandchildren the value of the truth.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

What Do You Miss About Your Children Now That They're Adults?