C.S. Lewis once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” Oftentimes we talk about this idea of integrity without grasping what it truly means. What if I told you it was not a single action, but a mind-set you needed to develop? Integrity is born in the mind and heart of a person. It comes from who you really are as a man or woman, and what you really believe about right and wrong, good and evil. And integrity is exhibited not in just one act of goodness, but in your whole character.
To teach your kids how to harness this vital virtue, you must first ask yourself if you really believe in the importance of modeling a life of integrity that your children can follow. If so, here are 4 practical ways to teach integrity to your kids. We need to teach integrity in:
1. What we say: When you speak, people need to be able to trust that you will be true to your word. With a mind-set of integrity established, you will find that you’ll be much more likely to speak truth and follow through with what you’ve said. This echoes the reality that we need to be careful to let our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no.
2. How we say it: Do you find yourself speaking to your children in a sarcastic or condescending tone of voice? Replace this attitude with a patient demeanor. Once you have developed a mind and heart of integrity, positive actions and words will more naturally flow forth. So hold on to your integrity by honoring your family in the way you talk to them on a daily basis.
3. What we do: Perhaps the most obvious, yet most important, way to teach your kids integrity is to lead by example. I know I often remind my kids not to speed on the highway, yet constantly drive too fast myself. Or, do you ever tell your kids to stop texting at the dinner table, only to check emails in the middle of a conversation they’re having with you? Start being a model for your kids and live a life of integrity that they can follow.
4. How we do it: We had a couple of guys come to our house to repair our air conditioning duct work. They didn’t repair it right, and within a year we had to have it redone again. These contractors took shortcuts when they thought no one would find out, yet the truth eventually surfaced. Learn from their mistake, and teach your kids to do everything with excellence from the start, even when no one is watching. Why? Simply because it’s the right thing to do!
How do you teach integrity to your kids? Please share your comments.
Here are some more resources on integrity: