Integrity is important, but increasingly rare today. The people that make the news often earn that publicity by their lack of integrity. It can be challenging to successfully teach your children that the opposite of the behavior they see is the ideal.
However, as a parent, you have tremendous amount of influence and a largely captive audience.
You can overcome the momentum of society and prepare your child for a life of integrity:
1. Avoid asking your children to lie for you. These lies seem innocent enough. You might ask your child to tell the salesperson on the phone that you’re not home. Or to tell their friend that they left the other child’s birthday present at home, when you actually forgot to purchase it.
- When you ask your child to lie, you’re demonstrating that lying is okay under certain circumstances. It’s not easy to determine when lying is acceptable and when it is not. It’s easiest to just avoid lying. You’ll also eventually find yourself on the other side of those same lies.
2. Avoid allowing your children to witness you lying. When your children see you being dishonest, they’ll either conclude that lying is acceptable or that you’re not an honorable person.
- No one is honest 100% of the time, but that doesn’t mean your children need to see you lie during their childhood.
- Consider the impact of lying in front of your children before you do it.
3. Drive the speed limit. This is a tough one for many, but a law is a law. How can you explain to your child that some laws are acceptable to break while others are not? You might have to leave the house a few minutes earlier, but some things are more important than driving quickly.
4. Explain the disadvantages of dishonesty. Lying can seem like an easy way out. So, it’s important to explain why dishonesty can create problems. Here are a few reasons to get you started:
- People will doubt your honesty in the future if you get caught.
- You can hurt the feelings of others.
- Lying to the wrong people can hurt you in school, at work, or with the police.
5. Set a good example. Your kids might not be hanging on your every word, but they are certainly keeping an eye on you. They notice when you do something that you told them not to do themselves.
- The easiest way to teach integrity is to model it. You already know what’s right and wrong. All you have to do is live it. Your children will see it and adopt similar behaviors.
- Have you noticed how many habits, behaviors, and attitudes you’ve adopted from your own parents? You might not be happy about it, but you can expect the same thing to happen with your own children. Plan ahead and set a great example!
6. Develop a sense of responsibility in your child. Every child over the age of three can have a couple of simple chores and put their dirty clothes in the hamper. Require your children to keep their word. Make them responsible for their chores, their word, and their actions. Consider reasonable rewards and punishments depending on the situation.
Teaching your child integrity is an important parental responsibility. It’s not a short-term activity. Teaching integrity is something that you do each day through your words and actions. Setting a good example for your children is half the battle. Give your children this gift and make integrity a priority in your family.