A definition of honesty in simple words for children
What is honesty? Many children think honesty means you "don't tell a lie"-- and speaking the truth is a big part of being honest. But honesty means more than "not lying." Honesty means your actions are truthful too. If you have to hide what you are doing because you are trying to trick someone, you probably aren't being honest. In simple words, honesty is about both speaking and acting truthfully. Let's look closer at what each type of honesty is.
(For a definition of honesty in more complete terms for adults, see What is Truth and Honesty, written by the same author.)
Honesty is speaking the truth. Saying things that aren't true, or that you think might not be true, or that you are making up to hide the truth are all types of lies. Lying is not honest (also called being dishonest) because you are saying something that isn't true. Examples of what speaking the honest truth means:
When you do something you know is morally wrong, or when you have to hide your actions because you know they are wrong, you are not being honest. Being honest means you act in a way that you know is the right thing to do. (More about good character, morals and how to know "right" from "wrong".)
This part of the definition of honesty includes not hiding the truth (deceiving), not breaking rules to gain an advantage (cheating), and not taking something that isn't yours (stealing) and any other action that you would hide because it is against what you consider morally right.
Part of honesty is what you say and how you act toward others. But another part of the definition of honesty is whether you treat yourself the same way. Being honest with yourself means you really know why you are acting in a certain way or whether what you tell yourself is true. This part of the definition of honesty includes when you are trying to convince yourself you didn't really do something wrong, or it wasn't that bad, even though you know it was.
Create your own definition for what honesty is from these examples or download a What is Honesty worksheet here.)
You broke a table. Your mom asks who broke the table and you tell her you did it.
Honesty answer: Honesty means telling the truth, so admitting to breaking the table is the honest action.
You heard a rumor and you think it's not true, so you don't spread it.
Honesty answer: Spreading rumors isn't a nice thing to do whether they are true or not. But if you spread rumors that you even just think might be false, then you are being dishonest because you aren't speaking the truth.
Your dad says not to play your game player. You hide in the closet to play it, but you don't tell your dad about it so you didn't lie.
Honesty answer: Even if you don't get caught, so you don't speak a lie about what you did, sneaking and hiding your actions usually means you are not making an honest choice.
Honesty answer: Even if you don't say a lie outright, hiding the truth (deceiving) is dishonest. Being honest means telling the whole truth.