Character Education #1: Truthfulness

(For an introduction to our Character Education unit, ideas and how we are approaching the subject, please read this post.)

Truthfulness is the first character quality in our Character Education unit.



This was a helpful quality to begin with because it is something everyone in our family understands.

The opposite of Truthfulness is Deception. Deception is a word our children hadn’t heard of before (although of course they knew its meaning!) so it was a good addition to their vocabulary.



I read aloud the definition of Truthfulness and explained how trust is built, how easily it can be broken by a few deceptive acts. Then I read the verse and we memorised it (including the verse reference) using our usual memorisation technique.

  • So stop telling lies. (* Both hands up, palms facing outwards)
  • Tell your neighbour the truth (* Bring hands together, then open both palms to face upwards, as how a book opens)
  • because we are all parts of the same body. (* Fingers point toward the speaker’s head, then flow downwards towards the rest of the body)

After memorising it together, we took turns to recite it individually using actions and dramatic voice.

* Actions are performed at the key words stop, truth and same body.



We reviewed the Truthfulness card. I asked the kids what the opposite of Truthfulness was. They couldn’t remember, except that the word began with a “Dee” sound, so I taught them the word Deception again as well as how to pronounce it.

I recited the verse using actions and dramatic voice, then the kids took it in turns.

We had a Marshmallow Challenge, everyone getting a mini marshmallow for each correct recitation of the verse (as well as other verses in our Memory Verse Box).

That was fun!



We reviewed the Truthfulness card again. This time, everyone knew the word Deception. We took turns to recite the verse.

Then I read aloud a few stories from one of their favourite books, The Children’s Book of Virtues. This book is part of the collection of P4/P5 books in our Sonlight Curriculum. Puppy and Lamb have completed P4/P5, but they love digging into their old books all the time.

The Children's Book of Virtues

The Children’s Book of Virtues, edited by William J. Bennett, has a selection of timeless stories that introduce the essentials of good character to young children: Courage, Perseverance, Responsibility, Work, Self-Discipline, Compassion, Faith, Honesty, Loyalty and Friendship. It’s a book we will be using regularly for a long time to come and I highly recommend it for any child’s library.

We began with George Washington and the Cherry Tree. It’s one of our favourite stories on how Truthfulness pays and how we sometimes need to overcome our fear of the consequences and tell the truth, as it is.

Once we start reading aloud from a favourite book, it’s hard to stop. The children wanted another story, so I read another, The Boy Who Cried Wolf. This popular Aesop’s fable shows how Deception produces disastrous results. I love how it exemplifies, perfectly, how someone fails to earn future trust – simply by inaccurately reporting past facts!

We then read The Honest Woodman. The kids liked it especially when I stopped at key points and asked them to guess what the woodman’s response to each tempting situation might be. This is a great story on how Truthfulness pays.

By then I got tired and wanted to stop. But the kids begged and begged, so we read The Indian Cinderella, a story on the consequences of both Truthfulness and Deception.

This is why The Children’s Book of Virtues is a favourite in our library. It has a collection of wonderful, engaging stories!

And that was the end of Lunch and the beginning of Quiet Time.

(Quiet Time is the hour after lunch when I spend one-on-one time with Piglet, my 2 year old, reading more stories and cuddling together for about half an hour or so, before Nap Time. The older two, Puppy and Lamb, occupy themselves with quiet activities in a different room.)



After a delayed school pick up and lunch later than usual, there wasn’t any time for stories or other reinforcement activities. Such is life.

We did, however, review the Truthfulness card and took turns to recite the verse. By this time, everyone knew the definition and verse perfectly without prompting.



I can’t remember the details, but it was one of those days I was too tired for anything beyond trying to get through the basics.

I did the lunch dishes while everyone took turns to recite the definition of Truthfulness and the accompanying verse before running off to investigate sweet things in a party pack Puppy brought home from a classmate’s birthday celebration at school.

Who says a lesson can’t be reviewed from the recesses of a kitchen sink?


Beyond the week

This week we are learning Obedience, which we started last week.

We are still reviewing Truthfulness. This past Monday, I read Puss in Boots, one of the stories in Stories From Around the World (also from P4/P5, Sonlight).

Stories from Around the World

It was fun stopping at points in the story and asking whether Puss was being Truthful or Deceptive. Everyone knew the answer to that!

Lamb had an interesting point to make about the miller’s son. The miller’s son, according to my 5 year old, was both Obedient and Deceptive. Obedient to Puss, Deceptive to others! I asked if being obedient to a person’s orders to deceive others was a good thing and they said, “No!”

Today at Bed Time, we took turns to tell each other personal stories of how we were Truthful and Deceptive over the past weeks. It was heartwarming to hear accounts of truthfulness.

And now I know which little person decided to leave the toilet unflushed, on purpose, although telling me the job had been done!


What are your thoughts on teaching your children Truthfulness? I would love for you share in the Comments section any links, stories and/or teaching ideas you might have.

Note: Our Character Education cards are a set of 49 character qualities taken from the Operational Definition of Character Qualities chart, which I downloaded from The Duggar Family. The verses are taken from the New Living Translation.

Related posts: Kick-off: Character Education

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  1. I don’t know if it’s because we have taught them well, or if we just lucked out, or — if they just don’t know how: but mine rarely, rarely lie. We of course talk about telling the truth, but honestly, they are normally so transparent, they would never get away with lying. ha.
    I think the one thing we have done is to be Fair and Consistent with how we have dealt with any wrongdoings, etc. Which creates a better environment for truth-telling: you may get in trouble for something — but you know that you will get the same consequence as anyone else in the house.
    but I do really like the Character Education Cards idea. That may be something I will add to our own teachings. Sometimes certain traits are hard to “unpack” for little ones – any help is good!
    Rorybore recently posted…Book Review: Wild by Cheryl StrayedMy Profile

  2. You got that one right about them being so transparent! Mine have funny, contorted, or distant faces whenever they’re trying to edge out. Dead giveaway!

    I was nodding my head reading Fair and Consistent. They do learn from observing how everyone else faces the same thing. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Aaahhh….Moral Education is best done like this at home! I always hated that subject in school because it was all just pure theory. My toddler has yet to discover lying and deception… and I’m happy to have it this way for as long as possible. But once it starts, it’s great to know there are terrific resources like this to help teach him the right values
    Serenely recently posted…An impossible cakeMy Profile

  4. Truthfulness is a great character trait to start with. My boys don’t outright lie to me, but they do try to hide things from me when they shouldn’t have them or sneak away from me to do things they know they shouldn’t. I try to discipline the deception as well as the forbidden act to bring home the point that both are wrong.
    Rabia @TheLiebers recently posted…Ten on Tuesday: Questions for the Dinner TableMy Profile

  5. I love your point that the deception as well as the forbidden act are wrong. So important. Thanks for highlighting it!

  6. Thanks for stopping by!

    Yes, it’s so weird to learn moral education as mere theory at school. How does it really resonate? I’m glad we’ve started this unit at home because, as they say, “prevention is better than cure”. And it helps the kids to identify and address issues before they start becoming habitual problems.

    I’m thankful my kids hardly lie, and when they try to hide something it’s quite startling to me. Usually it’s a fear of being scolded, so that (identifying what’s right/wrong, but still affirming the individual’s self-worth) has to be addressed too.

  7. Thanks, Valerie! I think these lessons are far more complex and important than most of the academic subjects we do.

  8. Yes, and as they grow I can imagine it can get quite exhausting too! Building character isn’t easy for adults either 🙂