One of the most important things we can teach our children is integrity. Integrity means being truthful and honest in all your dealings, both with others and with yourself. It means doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.
Teaching our children integrity is something that can, and should, start early on. We know that children are sponges, and soak up what they see, hear and learn; let’s make sure that we’re teaching them the good stuff.
Here are 5 of my favorite ways to teach your children integrity:
1. Lead by example.
Children learn best by watching what we do, not what we say. This is one of the most important lessons to learn about being a parent. If you want your child to be honest, be honest yourself. If you want your child to be respectful, be respectful yourself.
2. Talk about why integrity is essential.
Help your child understand why it’s important to be honest and have good character. Explain that integrity is the foundation of a good reputation and that it’s something people respect and admire. Let them know that integrity often goes observed unannounced, and is something that people may not openly speak to them about.
3. Encourage your child to stand up for what they believe in.
Help them learn how to speak up for themselves and make decisions based on their values and beliefs, even if they’re the dissenting voice in the room. Strong convictions are a hallmark of an honest person. Being true to their beliefs will help them build a stronger sense of self as they grow up.
4. Praise your child when they exhibit integrity.
Let them know that you’re proud of them when they exhibit qualities such as honesty, respectfulness, and responsibility. This will help reinforce the behavior that leads them towards displaying integrity. Letting them know that you see, and admire, their behavior helps build their pride and self-esteem.
5. Encourage them to think about the consequences of their actions.
Ask them how they think their actions will affect themselves, others, and their community. Help them learn to make good decisions based on what is best for all involved. Help them understand that there are short, and long-term, consequences, and that just because a behavior feels good at the moment doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing to engage in.
Integrity is a quality that will serve our children well throughout every aspect of their lives. It’s something they will need both in their personal and professional lives. Teaching our children integrity is one of the best gifts we can give them. Help them start off on the right foot, and start integrating these tips today.