Children lie for many of the same reasons adults do: to avoid punishment, to gain an advantage, to protect against an unwanted consequence, and even to boost self-esteem. They may sometimes lie to demonstrate power, maintain privacy, or to protect a friend. When children lie, they are essentially trying to change a situation, to reconstruct things the way they want them to be. Helping your child develop morality and responsibility for their actions over the long haul is the goal. While lying is a normal aspect of growing up, that does not mean it should be dismissed.
In fourth grade we spent time discussing character, in honor of Character Counts! Week. Our focus was on integrity and I asked students what it means to be honest. How do you know when someone is being honest? Tell me about a time when you were not honest and explained what happened. How does it feel when someone is not honest with you? An honest person has integrity which means to stand-up for what they believe is right even in difficult times.
We then read The Empty Pot written by Demi. This is a wonderful Chinese folktale that has a unique twist at the end. The Emperor is looking for a successor to the thrown and comes up with a creative plan to find a child that has integrity. I won't spoil the ending...but it definitely surprises the students and their jaws drop! We reflected on the story thinking about how the Emperor must have felt when the children were being dishonest, how Ping (the main character) felt when he was the only one that was different, and what they would have done if they were in the same position.
Students then created flip books to explain how they show the 6 pillars of character in their everyday lives. You can download a copy here.