Clifford accidentally breaks a present that he was supposed to deliver to Emily. Then he allows Cleo to convince him to try to hide the fact from Emily. Clifford learns that it's best to be honest, right from the start.

Clifford's Big Idea: Be TruthfulClifford's Big Idea: Be Truthful

Young children will sometimes lie to cover up their mistakes. They have a simple reason for doing so: they seek approval from others. Adults' approval is especially important for children while they are building their self-esteem. They crave positive feedback. Teaching them how to acknowledge their mistakes can help develop their:

  • social and emotional skills
  • critical thinking
  • creative thinking
  • problem-solving skills

Accidents HappenAccidents Happen

Talk about this Clifford episode, in which Clifford learns that it's best to be honest, right from the start. Ask the child for reactions:

  • Would you have been tempted to do the same thing?
  • How did Clifford feel at the end after he told the truth to Emily Elizabeth? To bring the lesson home, tell the child about a time when you wanted to tell a "white lie."

Discuss how the child can tell others about a mistake or an accident. Point out that the child will probably want to accomplish two things: to explain what happened and to offer to make things right. For example, a person might say

  • "I'm sorry about this, but . . ."
  • "I accidentally . . ."
  • "What can I do to help?"
  • "I'll be more careful next time."

With a Group:
Encourage the children to think of other things they might say or do when they make a mistake or have an accident. Add these to a chart with the heading "Be Truthful About Mistakes and Accidents."

In a letter to parents, describe the discussion about honesty that you will have in your classroom. Remind parents that it's natural to feel angry when they catch their children being untruthful, but that they should also think carefully before they speak. Telling a child something similar to

"I know that it was hard for you to tell me what really happened, and I'm proud of you for telling the truth."

produces far better results than getting angry because it encourages the child to want to tell the truth in the future.

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