School is beneficial for providing your children with fundamental skills and knowledge, but there are some values you should strive to foster in your children yourself. Among those skills is integrity. Though it is abstract and potentially subjective, there are many things you can do to model and promote integrity.
Lead By Example
Demonstrating integrity with your own actions is the simplest and most effective method of teaching it to your children. This method is doubly useful for young children who learn best through modeling their behavior after others. Embodying integrity can be a challenge, but it is important that you try. Own up to your mistakes, be honest, and treat others with respect. These guidelines are relatively simple; striving to avoid a contradictory method of teaching (“Do as I say, not as I do”) can help you promote integrity through your behaviors.
Reward Examples of Integrity
Some elements of operant conditioning are especially useful when instilling values in children. Providing rewards for appropriate, respectful, and honest behavior can help incentivize repeated examples of integrity. It’s important to recognize that rewards don’t need to be physical or material; simply offering praise and explaining why such behavior is considered deserving of reward can help children understand without learning to expect treats or toys in return.
Language is a powerful tool, especially in the case of promoting positive values. Stories, from fairy tales to popular novels, are full of moral lessons. By sharing such stories, you can bring awareness to the existence of positive and negative values alike. Engaging in meaningful conversations alongside these stories and utilizing appropriate vocabulary words like respect, honesty, and trust can help children learn about different elements of integrity and understand how and why they should work to integrate that value into their lives.
As much as you may want to protect your children from negative influences, the truth is that the world beyond your home will inevitably affect how your child sees and engages with the world. This fact becomes even more true when considering how technology allows for interaction between individuals all over the world. You should try to teach your children to stay true to themselves and to choose friends who embody the positive traits associated with integrity.
When it comes to digital media, you can limit the kind of websites your children visit and the shows they watch. Teaching them how to deal with online bullies and expressing that they can seek an adult’s opinion when it comes to content they encounter online can help keep them safe and unaffected by toxic viewpoints.
Teaching children integrity is difficult, but it is far from impossible. By modeling the behavior you want them to exhibit, actively promoting and rewarding positive behavior, and setting productive boundaries, you can help your children grow to be kind, respectful, and honest.