Integrity means honesty, being without blemish, and not lying. We can tell our children this defination and they may or may not listen. What we can be sure of is that they are watching everything you do. I think we would all agree that being honest and living with integrity is an important part of becoming a productive citizen in our community. The question is how do we instill these values in our kiddos?
We can tell our children a million times what we want them to know and do and more times than not it will fly right over their heads. They do however watch how we live and see when we are not honest or upright. Lets put ourselves in a home atmosphere, you are relaxing watching your favorite movie and the phone rings. You know it is someone wanting you to do them a favor. You tell your child to tell them that you are in the shower. This seems harmless, however you have just encouraged your child to lie. You have taught them that it is ok as long as no one was harmed by it. Next time get up and go get in the shower! Hold yourself to a higher standared. Be the example!
Maybe you are at an amusement park buying tickets. Your son just turned thirteen last week, but when the attendant asks you how old your son is, you say twelve. Yes you just got a cheaper rate, however do you really think your child does not know how old he is? You just taught him that it is ok to lie as long as you get something good out of it. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Be the example!
I found a lesson aid to use when teaching my children this lesson. I don't remember the source however it was amazingly effective. I talked with my children about integrity and lying. The group decided that if the lie was little and didn't hurt anyone, it would be ok. We talked about this for some time, adding in that if a movie had just a little bit of bad stuff in it, that was ok too. You can imagine that we covered many topic and the conclusion was that on all matters "Just a little" was ok. I then took out a special pan of brownies and offered it to them explaining that I used a special ingrediant in them. I used "just a little" so it should be ok..... right? They insisted that I reveal the ingredient. It was "just a little," DOG POO! Wow this was a great way to make this point and I will be forever grateful to the source that offered this idea! (whoever it was!)
I am reminded of a song sang as a child and one line stand out to me today. "O be careful little mouth what you say." I reminded my children over and over so they understand that we are human and make mistakes, however it is up to us to rectify our errs and hold ourselves accountible for our words and actions. I am not perfect and at times find my integrity lacking. I appreciate the times my children call me on it and give me the opportunity to fix it. It assures me that they understand the importance of this integrity lesson and will begin to apply the principles in their own life.
I challenge all parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, friends, and neighbors to hold yourself to a higher integrity. Watch what you say and do. Be the example and not the exception. Investing in your childs moral character is well worth the time and will never be a wasted effort.
I appreciate all comments and look forward to connecting with you, sharing ideas and fun learning teaching tools.