Life Skills – How to Teach Kids Integrity

In this post I will be going over how to teach kids about integrity.  I started this series of life skills posts with integrity because I feel there is a serious lack of it in the world today.  You routinely see political figures, business leaders, and celebrities demonstrating a severe lack of integrity, usually just to continue to feed their own egos.

Unfortunately, kids are more influenced by television, social media, and peers than they are by parents or family members, so we have to work even harder to get the message across.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching
Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching

Let’s apply the process to integrity.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Integrity means “Doing the right thing even when it is difficult.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Doing the right thing is not always easy.  You may be the only one of your friends who does not want to partake in something you’re not supposed to do and will therefore be deemed “uncool”.  Sometimes doing the right thing means telling the truth when we did something wrong.  Telling a lie to get out of it may save you from getting in trouble but would not be the right thing to do.  If you get caught you will be in more trouble than before.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of integrity in karate: Your instructor asks you if you practiced your forms in preparation for the belt test coming up.  You lie and say you did even though you didn’t because you were the only one in class who forgot.  You should tell the truth and say you didn’t even though you might get in trouble or embarrassed.  In this case, the instructor would have taken those students who did not practice their forms and work with them separately to help them further.  Doing the right thing always results in a better outcome.
    • Example of integrity at school: Your teacher says before lunch that when you get back from lunch there will be a surprise test.  A fellow classmate at lunch comes up to you and says he has the answers to the test and offers them to you.  Should you take the answers and ace the test or decline them and possibly do poorly on the test and feel uncool around this classmate?  Cheating is never a good idea and people with integrity do not cheat.
    • Example of integrity with friends: You are in a large group of friends and everyone in the group except for you starts to pick on a kid from school that is walking by.  Your friends keep telling you to join in, but you don’t want to.  What should you do?  Standing up for others is very hard but is the right thing to do.  At the very least, do not partake in the bullying and leave to go do something else.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have integrity?  Doing the right thing can help someone else like in the example of standing up for a friend who is being bullied.  Despite the fact you may get into trouble for doing the right thing, you will always get into more trouble if you don’t do the right thing.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
The many parts to teach kids integrity
The many parts to teach kids integrity

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids self-control.

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