I'm so excited to introduce you to Vanessa, from the Savvy School Counselor! She's provided us a guest post about instilling integrity in children. It's an important character trait that makes the world a better place. Be sure to hop on over to Vanessa's blog, to find more great ideas!
Instilling Integrity in Children
As a school counselor, a lot of my time is spent teaching character education throughout the school year. I believe it is important for children to understand what it means to show the different character traits and how doing so will help them become the best they can be. One important trait for children to understand and learn to demonstrate is integrity. This one can sometimes be tricky. Looking back, my daughter has always had a sweet tooth. This sweet tooth has caused her to put integrity to the side many a day! I won’t even go into the story of when she took one bite out of each of the donuts in the Krispy Kreme box and said she didn’t. Our family consists of her, our dog, and me…so I knew I had a little problem on my hands. Instilling integrity in her became and still is one of my top priorities.
Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. If you were to ask my students what integrity means, they would most likely say, “Doing what’s right even if no one is looking.” Instilling this trait in children at a young age is so important. So what can you do? Here are three simple ways to start:
Be an Example - Children are always watching what we do as parents and as educators. The old adage “lead by example” couldn’t be more relevant in this day and time. It is important to show children that being truthful and honest is the way to go. When you say you are going to do something, follow through with it. When you make a misstep, acknowledge it and make the necessary changes. The children in your life will take notice.
Use Literature to Help Children Understand - I love to use literature in my classroom counseling lessons. There are several books you can refer to when teaching your children or students about integrity:
Jamaica’s Find - This is a great book about a little girl who finds a stuffed dog in the park and takes it home without finding its owner.
The Emperor’s New Clothes - This is an old favorite! The emperor’s ministers pretend to see his “invisible” clothing because they are afraid of losing their jobs.
The Empty Pot - Many wanted to be the Emperor’s successor, but only Ping shows integrity.
Horton Hatches the Egg - He meant what he said, and he said what he meant. This elephant is faithful…100%.
Give Positive Reinforcement - When you witness examples of integrity, make a big deal about it. It’s so easy for adults to point out what children are doing wrong. It takes a little more effort to pull out those things they are doing right. When children take responsibility for their actions and tell you what they’ve done before you “accidently” find out, they are demonstrating integrity.
Thank them for being honest and use it as a teachable moment instead of a punishable moment. Although you may be disappointed in what they’ve done, let them know how proud you are that they told the truth and showed integrity. Then, discuss how to make better choices in the future.
Instilling integrity is going to be a work in progress and will not happen overnight. Modeling integrity, sharing literature about integrity, and giving positive reinforcement when children show integrity can make a difference. When it’s all said and done, we want our children and students to grow up and become adults with strong moral principles. For now, they are still children and need the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Make the most of those teachable moments now, then sit back and wait for the results. You won’t be disappointed.
Here is the lovely Vanessa of Savvy School Counselor!
Thanks, Vanessa! We appreciate you sharing your wisdom and insights!