Not only a book for parents and educators, this work is authored by a psychologist and scientist who demonstrates that truthfulness is the best strategy.
The core of the book is in Part Two called “Teaching Honesty to Children,” and the strategies offered are suitable for people of any age. Truthfulness is a problem throughout our lives and communities — in politics and work situations and our everyday conversations — making these strategies vital.
For example, in chapter 6, “Talk to Children about Honesty,” the advice is practical and applicable. Under “When to Have Conversations about Honesty” Talwar says that, right after your child lies, “Keep it brief; just give a reminder about honesty; know that the child may be defensive.” Instead, reserve longer conversations for other times when you can have a discussion and ask questions, knowing that then the child will be more open to talking. When those longer conversations take place, one practical step is to explain how to practice honesty by starting statements with “You are practicing honesty when…”
For instance: “You are practicing honesty when you say that you mean and mean what you say.” “You are practicing honesty when you make promises you can keep.” “You are practicing honesty when you admit your mistakes.” “You are practicing honesty when you refuse to lie, cheat, or steal.” “You are practicing honesty when you tell the truth tactfully.” “You are practicing honesty when you do not try to impress others by making up stories or exaggerating.” “You are practicing honesty when you accept yourself as you are.” We loved that last one in particular!
Offering practical examples from real life situations — when a mistake is made, an accident takes place, or a question is asked of you to which you may want to lie — is also part of the truth-telling teaching here, as is role-play: “Think about a time when you were honest or saw someone else being honest or dishonest…”
There are sections on the importance of using storytelling to teach truth-telling and the positive role of praising the honest answer, especially when it might appear to be a painful one.
Disorders, personality types, pathological lying, and character development are critical here, all offered in ways that make it easy to see how an adult reader could benefit as well. See, for example, the excerpt accompanying this review on “Why We Lie.”
When you pick up this book, look to chapter 11, “Secrets and Tattles,” where the nuances of learning how to tell the truth take precedent over the principle of always telling the truth. The author’s conclusion includes: “While 'honesty is the best policy' is true in general, with secrets and tattling, we must appreciate the intentions of others and the harm caused when commenting or telling the truth.”