October Character Development: Integrity
All the World’s a Stage
I sometimes feel as if life is a performance. I put on my makeup and dress according to the role I will play that day, exchange formal lines like “Good morning, how are you?” and move from scene to scene through the business of life.
Though many only see the performance on the stage, my children are in a unique position to watch my life play out both as a member of the audience and a part of the backstage crew: they see it all.
The thought is both terrifying and compelling: They are learning from me at every moment of every day – understudies, of sort, to my role. What will they learn? What am I showing them in those daily performances?
Dr. Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and authority on child development, cautions parents to know what they stand for so their children will know:
Parents with clearly identified moral convictions are more likely to raise good kids. Because their kids know what their parents stand for and why they do, their kids are more likely to adopt their parents’ beliefs. … One great question to ask yourself each day is: “If I were the only example my child had to learn moral habits, what did she learn today from watching me?” The answer can be quite revealing. By watching your choices and hearing your casual comments, kids learn our moral standards. (Borbo, 2015)
One’s moral convictions are summarized by their integrity. To teach integrity to our children:
- Let your word stand: If you say you will do something, follow-through and do it. Whether it is reading a promised story later that evening or delivering on a consequence for inappropriate behavior, follow-through is integrity in action.
- Remember your actions speak louder: make sure you are living out behaviors you expect from your children. If you want them to be kind and respectful, then you should be kind and respectful.
- When “no one” is watching: As children grow they become much more observant of discrepancies between what we say and what we do. When we take “short-cuts” or do something we tell them not to do, they begin to question our integrity.
What do you want your children to learn as they watch you?
Borbo, M. (2015). “Seven Ways to Build Strong Character and Integrity in Children.” Retrieved on September 21, 2015 from http://micheleborba.com/blog/seven-tips-to-build-strong-character-and-help-kids-stand-up-for-their-moral-beliefs/
Merrill, M. (2013). “How to Teach Integrity to Your Kids.” Retrieved on September 21, 2015 from http://www.markmerrill.com/how-to-teach-integrity-to-your-kids/