Honesty – the Best Policy?

Our blog this month is about honesty. Honesty is the super skill of Sofia, one of the Five Enchanted Mermaids. And, April 30 is National Honesty Day.

In the early 1990s, M. Hirsh Goldberg created the concept of National Honesty Day, which is still celebrated each year on April 30. "The day is used to encourage honesty and straightforward communication in politics, relationships, consumer relations and historical education." Source: Wikipedia.

Honesty Day was driven by a book written by Goldberg called, The Book of Lies: Fibs, Tales, Schemes, Scams, Fakes, and Frauds That Have Changed The Course of History and Affect Our Daily Lives. He probably wanted to promote his book so why not push for a National Honesty Day?

There have been many surveys about honesty and although the results vary dramatically, they all conclude that most people lie at least once per day. Goldberg said the figure is 200 lies per person, per day but this figure is high, probably driven his push to sell his book.

A piece of trivia from Wikipedia, and based on a broad survey, states: “The average British man tells three lies a day, while the average woman tells two lies a day. The average lie for a man is, 'I didn’t drink that much.' and for a woman it is, 'Nothing’s wrong, I'm fine.'"

Part of observing this day is that you are allowed to ask anyone else observing the day a question and be rewarded with an honest answer.

Teaching Children about Honesty

When children reach the ages of 3 – 5, they transition from being almost completely dependent on their parents or other adults and to a level of greater independence. They think for themselves, they make some decisions, and begin to develop the social skills that will become fundamental pillars of their success later in life.

Some of these skills will be easy to teach and to monitor. Being kind rather than hateful, being good rather than bad, being more independent rather than overly dependent on their parents, being courageous, being confident. These traits are very straight forward; there are few nuances.

However, there is one other trait which is somewhat trickier – honesty. On the surface, this is no different than the others. Being honest is good, being dishonest is bad. Overall, telling lies is not good.

However, at this formative age, honesty is more nuanced than that; it is less binary and there is a spectrum of dishonesty from fibs (unimportant lies), white lies, making up a story, not telling the whole truth to telling outright lies.

Since the 3 - 5 year old is at an age where imagination is prevalent, making up a story to hide something and even believing in it as real, is common. Making up a story transports the youngster into a different world and in this world, whileit is not real, it is easy for the child to believe that the fictional account is real. What is real, what is not? If it is not real does this constitute a lie?

At the innocent end of the dishonesty spectrum is the fib, or “white lie”. If grandma is wearing a really ugly hat and asks your child what she thinks of it, the child faces a dilemma. Tell the truth and upset grandma or tell a “white lie” that they think it is “lovely”. Or, change the subject and not answer the question. This dilemma is difficult for an experienced adult to face, so imagine how hard it is for children to get their mind around this.

Recently, politicians and celebrities have been called out by the media for lying. Ten years ago lies may have been as prevalent, but these were rarely called out to the population at large. All this makes it a lot harder to bring up your children to be honest. When you catch them lying, their obvious, and reasonable, comment is “Everyone does it. Why shouldn’t I?”

The first question is, “is it worth teaching them to be honest when all around them there seems to be dishonesty?”. A second is, “If it is worth teaching, how can I best teach them?”

There is no easy answer. Each family’s parenting approach differs from others and each child learns differently.

One trick in parenting is to get ahead of the curve. Before the age of independence teach them that honesty is the best approach, so they have a firm set of morals as they move towards making their own decisions. By the way, children learn from their parents even when their parents are not trying to teach them, so provide a good role model on honesty.

Another trick is to teach them over an extended period with a lot of examples so they can understand the differences from fibs to outright lies across the

dishonesty spectrum.

I am sure you have faced this issue. Please let us have your ideas and we shall put them together for a later blog.


The Five Enchanted Mermaids, a group of super cute, multiethnic mermaid friends that roam the make-believe world of Atargatis, celebrate diversity in our world and the belief that each child deserves to have a mermaid that looks like them. Through their individual personalities and traits, they weave stories that help teach inclusion and social skills for children in this age group. The idea for the Five Enchanted Mermaids was born to provide a fun but educational backdrop for children aged 3 to 7 years. The characters address emotional skills (making friends, resolving conflicts, coping with change, making their own choices and “being good people”) and educational skills (learning to read, the alphabet, counting, symmetrical shapes, time, value of monetary coins/notes) that are important at that age in the development of young girls. The stories use each of the diverse mermaids as a role model for behavior and values. Click here to start your visit on our website and see the footer for links to our social media sites.

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