How to Teach Your Children to be Honest? Let Them Eat Candy!

PinocchioMy children have reached an age where they have begun to experiment with deceit. This is a an extremely aggravating period for parents, because you know you should be wise and mature enough to understand that children not only need to test their boundaries, but also need concrete evidence that they truly will get in more trouble in the end if they lie! Which means they need to keep lying to see the consequences…which means we have to be uber-vigilant, suspicious, and very consistent with our follow through. It can be exhausting, always being the bad guy, but in the end it is worth it right? They will eventually learn that ‘honesty is the best policy’ , that a good, honest act is rewarded and that deceit will just result in a harsher punishment…right?

My kids are still young, so their evil deeds and mischief are only really comprised of farting in the car, pretending to brush their teeth, and tattling on each other. Hardly worth a panic-attack….however I can’t help myself from mentally jumping 10 years down the road when they are hiding body piercings, sneaking out of their windows, and adamantly sticking to their ignorance as to how the car got that scratch.

So I have prepared myself an exercise I’m sure will hit home. Why am I sure? Because

  1. Teenagers love candy
  2. Teenagers have no self-control
  3. Teenagers hate pimples

So here is my plan for when my pretty little children turn into greasy-faced, hormonally-charged liars:

  1. Buy a bunch of candy
  2. Hide it in plain sight
  3. Giggle silently because I know they are going to eat it
  4. Display alarm at the pimples that will surface by the next day
  5. (Eat some of the candy when they aren’t looking)
  6. Ask them if they ate the candy, and listen to them lie about it…then speech them.

No, you are right, I likely won’t do this (except for the eating the candy part). But I will use the brilliant LYING CAUSES PIMPLES analogy I have created.

Eating the candy your mom thinks is safely stored in the kitchen cupboard, like lying, seems innocent enough, with short term rewards and no immediate side effects. But, as the sugar-coma wears off, you are left with a hollow hunger in your stomach and a bit of an ache in your head. You see no other way to continue feeling good except to eat more candy. But, then you realize you are left with so many wrappers to dispose of you begin to forget where you stashed them…are they in the pocket of the coat you just lent your mom? Did you stuff them in the glove compartment of the car your father took to work? Did you put them are enough down in the garbage can that they won’t be visible through the bag? You start to worry and look for signs you may have been found out. And then, like a scarlet letter branded on your chest…the dreaded pimple…a dead give away. And once it is out there in the open, with its icky white head, you certainly can’t cover it up, that makes it worse! It is hot and painful, and a constant reminder of your guilt. Others will see it and judge you, harshly and perhaps unfairly. The pimple is nature’s way of telling you not to eat candy. Like the pimple, the guilt of lying will come to the surface; red, hot and painful, it will affect how you see yourself, and how others see you, and it will get worse if you try to cover it back up.

What will my teenager get from this story? Lying causes pimples. Well, maybe not…but I can hope that they’ll realize stealing Mommy’s candy causes pimples. A worthy victory in itself.

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