How to Build Honesty in Teens

One of the key methods to building a rewarding and satisfying life is honesty. When you have the ability to be honest with others, you are trusted. When people trust you, it makes you feel good about yourself and it makes people feel good about you. This is exactly why it is so important to foster honesty in your teens. They will find that honesty helps build more meaningful friendships and relationships, plus they will experience the benefits of being trusted by you and their peers.

Practice honesty with your teen, advises 1. When you make promises to your teen, keep them. When you tell him something, make it honest. When your teen is exposed to your honesty on a regular basis, it makes it easier for him to be honest himself. When he is exposed to dishonesty, he only learns that dishonesty is a natural way of life.

Admit your mistakes and when you are wrong, advises Dr. James Wellborn, clinical psychologist and author of "Raising Teens in the 21st Century." One of the biggest aspects of honesty is learning to admit when something is your fault, when you’ve made a mistake and when you are wrong. Your teen will learn that being upfront about her mistakes and her role in misunderstandings is a natural reaction, which is part of being honest. When you show her that taking responsibility for her actions is the honest, good way to live, you are fostering an appreciation for honesty in her mind.

Praise your teen when he is honest, advises Wellborn. If your teen backs into another car in the mall parking lot and admits his mistake by leaving a note on the other car containing his contact information and what happened, and then comes home and comes clean despite the fact that he did no damage to your car, praise him. Even if there was no damage to the car and you never would have known he was in a minor accident otherwise, he decided that honesty was the best policy and that deserves significant praise. This kind of praise helps him understand that honesty is always worth it.

Teach your teen the value of constructive honesty, advises 1. Nothing good will come from your teen telling her friend that she looks like she’s gained a couple pounds when she tries on a new dress. Instead, teach her that while she should still be honest when her friends asks for her opinion, she should do it constructively. If she doesn’t think her friend looks good in something and wants to be honest about it, encourage her to find a nicer way of being honest. She can tell her friend she’s not crazy about the color or that she liked her in the other dress better. She can even be honest by saying, “I just don’t love that one on you.”