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Honesty: Zandri’s Powerful Word for June

This month we have a brand new word of the month. It is “Honesty”. Honesty means being truthful, trustworthy, sincere and open. It’s about ensuring that things are as they seem and that actions match promises. While most people think of honesty as “not telling lies,” lying doesn’t need to be about “telling” anything at all. In fact, we can lie through body language, omissions, intonations, and inflection. Lack of honesty is about willful deception; the intention to deceive someone even when you know something is untrue.

Studies show that nearly everyone lies. New York Magazine just published an article 2 months ago (February 10, 2008) that detailed Professor Nancy Darling’s research it showed that 98% of teens reported lying to their parents. Children don’t grow out of lying, they grow into it. They do it more often as they age.

Believe it or not, lying is a developmental activity that shows both intelligence and social skills. The child must be cognitively aware that s/he can fool another person with words or actions. It’s especially common among preschoolers who have active imaginations and are still learning the difference between fantasy and reality. As children get older, they realize that lying can get them out of trouble, that is, if they are particularly gifted at deception and creative at not getting caught. But they also learn that lying is typically wrong.

Interestingly, being honest and not telling lies is not always a black and white issue. We might teach our children to tell the truth, but not want them to ruin the surprise when we’re planning a surprise party. We might tell them that honesty is always better and yet instruct them to lie to strangers about parents being home when they’re not. Liars sometimes get away with it. Truth-tellers, on the other hand, are sometimes called “tattle-tales” and get into trouble. Given these scenarios, children may not always believe that “honesty is the best policy.” It’s important for us to help children understand that being honest might not always be pleasant, but it’s the right thing to do.

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