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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET WHAT IS GOOD CHARACTER? pick up their own toys, feed the pets, pick up trash, turn off the water spigot after using, and handle flowers gently, they experience basic but valuable lessons in caring for the environment, our shared space. Honesty Honesty is the basis for trust and a critical ingredient in loving, fulfilling, success- ful relationships. Not only do we want and need to trust other people in order to function successfully in society, but we also want and need others to trust us. The foundation for understanding and embracing trust and honesty begins in infancy through children’s experience of the care they receive by their significant adults. Children begin learning to trust when they experience consistent and predictable nurturing care. Long before they can define or explain their feelings, children develop instincts about others’ trustworthiness. Experiencing others to be trustworthy fuels children’s instinct to then be trustworthy themselves. Young children continue to develop their understanding of honesty through their experiences with pretend play. Through this type of play, they get valuable practice in distinguishing between what is real and what is not real. At a certain developmental stage, it is perfectly normal for toddlers to get somewhat confused about this distinction and perhaps seem to devote far more energy to the imaginary world than the real. But this is not something to worry about. The imagination is a critical cognitive tool that will serve them in countless ways as they mature, including helping them understand others’ perspectives, visualize and solve prob- lems, come up with new ideas, and think creatively. Ultimately their experiences in pretend play will help to clarify the distinction between real and pretend, and to develop their ability to grasp the reality of truth. At a certain stage, it is also common for young children to make up stories as a way of explaining things they do not understand or to avoid punishment, as in the earlier scenario with big sister Becky. This is developmentally normal and not an indication of dishonest character. Adults can promote honesty by giving gentle feedback, helping children to distinguish between truth and fiction, and embracing the truth even when it is challenging. Beginning from birth, children benefit from seeing us model honesty in our relationships. This sounds like a simple task, but it can be challenging. We may often lie to children without thinking. For example, a parent may say, “Mmm . . . this medicine is good,” as a way of encouraging the child to take it. When the child swallows the medicine and finds it to be horribly bitter, she experiences a parent who didn’t tell the truth. It would be better to say something like, “Medicine will make you feel better.” Other times, we may say, “You’re not hurt,” when we want to COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 9