What children learn from ‘Honest Abe’

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By Beth Pinyerd

Every year in the classroom, I look forward to celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12!
Not only is it the crafts of presidential silhouettes, coloring over copper pennies with Abraham Lincoln’s head and face on them and making log cabins and top hats, but it is the legacy he lived and left behind for us as parents, grandparents and teachers can cling to and teach our children for many years to come!
Lincoln was honest. Even as a young man, we hear the story of when “Honest Abe” was working in a country store that he had taken a few more cents from a customer on a product that was more than what was due. He closed the store and walked quite a long distance to return the correct change to the customer. One of his long living quotations is that “Truth is your truest friend.”
Don’t punish a young child for not telling the truth if he/she doesn’t understand the truth. In early childhood, the habit of not telling the truth can start as early as toddlerhood or preschool. This is why it is so important as parents and teachers for us to take the time to sit down and teach young children the importance of being honest. This depends on the age of the child in being able to cognitively understand. Young children love to explore! This is a God-given instinct which introduces a young child to new abilities, possibilities, happiness, joy and sadness.
They are little life observers of what gets them into trouble and what doesn’t get them into trouble.
Why do children not tell the truth? This is the time we need to sit down and spend one on one time in getting to the root and bottom of why our children may lie. Let’s examine our adult expectations of a child as a parent and teacher.
Children want to please their parents and teachers. Are our expectations too high for our children? Do they fear of getting into trouble if they have done something wrong? As a teacher, I much prefer to have an honest “C,” “D” or an “F” on a test from a young student than a dishonest “A” because they may have cheated or lied. Being themselves helps us as parents and teachers to help them right where they honestly are. These are things for us to consider in helping to teach and mold our children to do what is right. Also, is the child just wanting their way and they lie? This is where we as parents and teachers can engage the child in the truth of the matter and encourage them to think of helping others.
Don’t embarrass a child in front of other children or family if you have caught them in a lie. Have a spot in your home where you and your child can face each other and come to the truth about a circumstance or situation. Hug them and hold them as you prompt them to tell you the truth. If your child does tell the truth which is a virtue you want to instill and encourage your child for a lifetime, then praise them for telling the truth. If they don’t tell the truth this is the time to reprimand them in an age appropriate way where they understand that not telling the truth is not acceptable. Role playing with your children to tell the truth is a very good way for them to understand that even little white lies can hurt other people and themselves.
In role playing the child can actually experience the bad feeling that lying can bring and experience the peace that telling the truth can bring.
We live in such a busy world. Unfortunately, we see dishonesty everywhere, but our children don’t need to experience that if we take the time to model the truth!
If we consciously try to model life’s truth, that is the best teacher that we can pass down to our children. Just like Lincoln, honesty can be a legacy we can pass down to our children.
The Classroom Observer is here to serve the community in sharing the wonderful teaching programs in our local public schools, private schools, and homeschools. The column is provided to enrich the education of our children, youth, and families. Classroom Observer welcomes educational news, school news, pictures, and events by e-mailing her at donnapinyerd@charter.net.

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