Building Superkids: Honesty

- Honesty is always the best policy! -

Written by Sensei Jon Davis

31 May 2024

When I was 11 or 12 years old, my neighbor came knocking at our front door. When my dad opened the door and greeted her, he could tell that she was upset about something. "Your son broke my window!" She shouted. My dad didn't know anything about a broken window, so he called me to the front door to join the conversation.


In front of our neighbor, my dad calmly asked me, "Did you break the window next door?" I replied, "No dad, I didn't." My dad turned to our neighbor and calmly said, "I'm sorry that this happened, but he didn't break your window." Frustrated, our neighbor said, "How do you know that he's not lying to you?!?" My dad's response was simple, "he doesn't lie to me." And that was the end of the conversation.


I will never forget what happened next...


When the door closed, I turned to my dad and said, "Dad, how did you know that I was telling the truth, and not lying to you?" My dad looked at me and smiled, saying "You are one of the most honest people I know. Lying is not something that you do." Ever since, I have tried to live up to the fine reputation that my dad gave me all those years ago.


And, in case you're wondering, I really hadn't broken the window! I found out later that it had been one of the other neighborhood kids playing street hockey...

As a Sensei, I have seen firsthand how the virtues taught on the mat can transform lives off the mat. In today's world, raising honest children is more necessary than ever. Honesty isn't just about telling the truth - it's about integrity, trustworthiness, and having the courage to do what's right.


Honesty is the keystone of strong character. It fosters trust, builds relationships, and creates a solid foundation for personal and professional success. A child who understands and practices honesty is better equipped to handle challenges, make ethical decisions, and earn the respect of others.


Dishonesty comes with several problems:

  • A dishonest person loses the trust of other people. When you catch someone lying to you, trust breaks down. From that day on, you question everything that person says.
  • A dishonest person has trouble trusting others. They know of their own dishonesty, so they can assume that others are dishonest as well.
  • Without honesty, people lose touch with reality. If someone tells a lie often enough, they will begin to believe it.
  • When a person begins to be dishonest, their behavior quickly worsens. They believe that since they aren't going to tell the truth anyway, they might as well do whatever they please.


How honesty is taught in the dojo:

  • Integrity in Training: We emphasize doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. This includes honest effort during practice, respecting the rules, and being truthful about one's abilities and progress.
  • Honesty in Competition: Whether sparring in class, or participating in tournaments, we teach our students to compete fairly and honestly. This includes acknowledging an opponent's skill and accepting both victory and defeat with grace.
  • Honest Self-Assessment: We encourage students to honestly evaluate their strengths and areas for improvement, fostering a mindset of continuous growth and integrity.

Children learn by observing the adults around them. As parents and role models, demonstrating honest behavior in your daily life is crucial. We must teach our kids honesty using the following tools:

  • Our Example: The example you set, through your words and actions, will teach your child honesty. On the other hand, your child will learn to be dishonest if they observe even the slightest hesitation in your commitment to honesty. For example, you're leaving the grocery store and you say, "It's our lucky day. They didn't charge us for some of the things that we bought!" Or, while standing in line to enter the amusement park, you say to your twelve-year-old, "Remember, you're only eleven."
  • Transparent Communication: It's important to always communicate openly and truthfully with your child. If you make a mistake, admit it. This teaches them that honesty includes acknowledging and correcting errors.
  • Unconditional Love: You can unwittingly teach a child to be dishonest if you allow them to believe that your love for them is conditional. Kids will lie if they think that the truth will cause a lack of love or approval. If your love for your child is performance based, you've created a situation where it really makes sense for your child to lie!
    • ​Make sure that you teach your children that you love them no matter what, unconditionally! That no matter what happens, no matter what they've done, there is nothing that would interfere with your love and support for them. No matter what, you will always be there for them.


Encourage Honest Behavior

​Encouraging honesty in children involves more than just telling them to tell the truth. It's about creating an environment where honesty is valued and rewarded. Here's how to do it:

  • Praise Honesty: When your child tells the truth, especially in difficult situations, praise their honesty. Positive reinforcement helps them understand the value of being honest.
  • Reinforce your child's honesty whenever you can: Use statements like, "I respect your honesty!", "I like the way you take pride in being truthful.", and "I trust you because of your honesty." Remember that telling the truth does not allow your child to escape the consequences of their actions. Your appreciation of their honesty is separate.
  • Discuss Scenarios: Use everyday situations or scenarios and talk about the importance of telling the truth, even when it's hard. A couple examples:
    • The cashier gives you the wrong change, accidentally overpaying you. What do you do?
    • Somebody calls you on the phone. You don't want to talk to them. How do you handle it?
    • You find a wallet on the floor in the shopping mall. What do you do with it?

Immediate Honesty

Telling the truth means telling it immediately. If a child lies at first, then tells the truth when the lie fails, it's not the same. Insist on immediate honesty.


Important Note: Parents should keep in mind that if a child does something wrong and lies about it, the lie is often the bigger of the two infractions.

  • Tommy swipes a cookie from the cookie jar.
  • Dad asks, "Tommy, did you take a cookie without permission?"
  • "No!" Replies Tommy with cookie crumbs all over his face.

Swiping a cookie is a small infraction. The lie is not. It says, " I will cover my actions with lies to protect myself."


Honesty is a superpower that will serve your child all throughout their life. By leading by example, encouraging honest behavior, integrating honesty into their karate training, and building a culture of honesty at home, you can help your child develop this invaluable trait. At our dojo, we are committed to partnering with you in this mission, building not only skilled martial artists, but SUPERKIDS of strong character and integrity!!

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