Honesty means we are truthful in what we say and do. It means people can rely on us and it’s the basis of a trusting relationship. For seven-year-olds, honesty looks like consistently telling the truth, accepting responsibility for their actions, and sharing important information with trusted adults – particularly about situations where they or others may need help.

At this age, kids understand the difference between telling the truth and lying, but they also want to please adults, so they may lie to hide accidents or misbehavior or to “protect” a friend.

Model Honesty
Kids watch and model adult behavior. A study from the University of California, San Diego, found that elementary schoolchildren who heard a lie from an adult about the presence of candy in another room were more likely to lie to cover up their misbehavior. If we want our children to be honest, we need to be good examples of honesty.

Honor Truthfulness
Reminding kids that it's important to tell the truth before you ask about a situation increases the chance that they will be honest. Let them know that telling the truth is both important and brave. When your child tells you the truth about the situation — particularly if it was hard for them to do so — remember to thank them for their honesty. When we make a mistake, the first step to fixing the situation is to be honest about what happened.

Respond Thoughtfully to Lying
Encouraging your child to tell the truth is important, but what should you do if you know they are lying? Definitely don't label your child a liar. That won't help your child embrace truth telling. Instead, share what you know about a situation, explain that you expect honesty and give your child a path forward by finding a way for them to make amends. In some situations, it may help to acknowledge the feelings behind their lie, such as fear, anxiety or embarrassment. Help them see honesty as an act of courage and responsibility — something worth striving for.