Honest people are trustworthy, sincere, and genuine. They display dignity and earn respect from peers and others in the community.
Although telling the truth is not always easy, teaching young people the value of honesty is important. Without it, dishonest habits, such as lying and cheating, can become a big problem. Honesty is crucial for success in all areas of life, including relationships, school, and jobs.
To instill the value of honesty, adults need to talk about it, model it, and explain why it's important. Work with your family, school, and community to come up with rules about honesty and the consequences for dishonesty. Encourage the young people you know to make a personal commitment to tell the truth-and you do the same. Honestly admit to your own successes and mistakes.
In your home: Don't overreact or be accusatory if you suspect that your child is lying to you. Instead, give her or him the opportunity to tell the truth by asking questions, such as "Do you think I may be struggling with believing you right now?"
In your neighborhood: Model honest behavior. For example, return extra change if you receive too much from a store clerk.
In your school or youth program: Discuss what it means to be honest. Ask what kinds of situations make it hard to tell the truth.
Research demonstrates that young people are more likely to grow up healthy when they tell the truth, even when it's not easy. People who are honest value diversity, good health, and success in school. They also make effective leaders.
Ian Eastman coordinates Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth on behalf of Family Services. This article was adapted from Instant Assets, published by Search Institute.