Useful Tips for Inculcating Trust and Honesty in Preschoolers

Parents play a critical role in teaching their preschool aged children trust and honesty. The home environment is one of the first places that kids experience these values. Many parents may not realize how much they have already done for their children by providing a loving; comfortable home where they feel cared for, loved, and secure.

Useful Tips for Inculcating Trust and Honesty in Preschoolers

The earlier that parents instill these values in their children, the more likely that they are to stick as the kids grow older. It may seem like a daunting task to go beyond this basic level of trust. However, there are a few simple pieces of advice that can make a big difference for your kids.

Set boundaries

Establishing rules and boundaries for children helps them learn right from wrong. With rules set in place, kids must make decisions to obey or disobey rules. It is imperative to set realistic rules that are appropriate for preschool age children. For example, a preschooler may not be able to clean his entire room unsupervised. However, he can learn to make his bed independently before he goes to school.

It is also important to set up rules and expectations that show that you trust your children. For example, preschool kids can pick out their own clothes for school. Completing these types of tasks on their own will help them develop independence as well as trust in themselves.

Offer a benefit for telling the truth

Sometimes parents punish children after they have done something wrong, but the punishment is for the wrong reason. This practice can lead to children not telling the truth because they're worried about the consequences. Children must understand that they will be rewarded for telling the truth, even when they share that they've misbehaved. For example, a child will get in trouble for breaking a ceramic vase on purpose, but he will not get in as much trouble if he tells the truth about it.

Model trustworthy and honest behavior

Children learn behavior from the adults and other children that have a large role in their lives. If your relationships are based on trust, children will learn to instill this same value in their own relationships. You should also be conscious of your smaller actions and the effect that they may have on your kids.

For example, it can be tempting to tell a white lie to get out of an uncomfortable phone call or to avoid talking about a difficult subject with a friend. These lies may seem unimportant. However, getting in the habit of telling lies often leads to telling bigger lies. You don't want your children to develop this same habit.

Don't blame other people

Every adult has seen a child blame another child for an action that the first child is clearly responsible for doing. For example, a preschool aged boy may wet his pants and then try to blame it on another kid playing at the playground. It is easy to laugh at this naive attempt to pass the blame, but it is natural for people to blame others for something that goes wrong.

This issue goes back to the concept of providing a benefit for telling the truth. Ultimately a child will get in less trouble for taking the blame than trying to deny it and blaming another person.

Look for opportunities to grow

No one is perfect, children and parents alike. Even with the best of intentions, it is easy to fall into bad behavior patterns. If you see that your child is slipping, have a frank discussion with her without being accusatory or condescending. It is all too easy to start slipping dishonest comments into conversations or telling white lies to avoid certain situations. Your child may not even be aware that she is doing these things. Use examples from your own life during this discussion and talk about ways to change the behavior.

Seek out literary resources

There is variety of kids' books that display the value of honesty including The Boy Who Cried Wolf retold by Katherine Evans, Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel, Tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, and The Berenstain Bears and The Truth by Stain Berenstain.

Praise Their Honesty

When a child is telling the truth, it takes a lot of courage. So when your preschooler tells you the truth even after doing something wrong, praise them rather than scolding them. Reacting this way will make them feel better about their honesty, especially in a situation where they know lying would have been way easier. This will only reinforce their habit of being honest and build their self-confidence.

Be Transparent With Your Kids

If you don’t want your children to lie, don’t lie to them either. It is better to let them know the truth about any situation rather than make up stories to appease them for the time being. By being transparent with you kids and letting your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and ‘no’ be ‘no’ will ensure that they build their honesty and trust with others.  


Dorothy Hastings

Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three Preschool and child care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child's social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.

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