by Jennifer Shakeel
Teaching your children good values and integrity is one of the gifts that you can give them that they will keep for the rest of their lives. Integrity is something that never goes out of style, although it can sometimes seem like the world can be lacking in it. By teaching your children integrity, you will not only be making their lives better, but you will be improving the life of everybody who comes in contact with your child, both now and in the future. There are some tips you can follow to help teach a child how to live their life with integrity.
Being truthful and honest at all times is an important part of integrity. You can help your child learn to tell the truth by making sure that you always make them feel comfortable sharing the truth with you. When you are instantly ready to criticize or punish when a child shares something with you that they did wrong, you are just encouraging them to either lie about things in the future, or stop telling you things altogether. Instead, you should always be sure that your children feel comfortable telling your things, even things that they know you will not want to hear.
Set a Good Example
One of the best ways of teaching your child about integrity is to model it yourself. If you tell your child you are going to do something, always strive to keep your word. Don’t let your child catch you being rude to other people, or engaging in dishonest behavior. Keep your temper under control, and never use insults or degrading comments when talking to your spouse, your children or anybody else for that matter. Children often learn more from what their parents do than what they say, so make sure that when your child watches you, they are observing the same type of integrity that you would like them to learn.
Show Love for Others
Children that observe hate when they are growing up are more likely to learn hatred as opposed to love. Teach your children that everybody deserves consideration and love as a human being.
Children that grow up surrounded by tolerance learn to accept other as they are, because they realize that there is a common bond that connects us all that transcends any differences in opinion, values or beliefs. Make sure that your children understand that you do not tolerate prejudice or racism and that they understand that not everybody has to think in the exact same way that they do. A child who learns tolerance when they are young is lucky, because it is much easier to continue down the path of tolerant thinking than to try to undo prejudice later in life.
Teach Your Child How to Apologize
Although parents often lecture their children to say “I’m sorry,” it is often more effective for you to model this type of behavior so that your child can learn from you. It sends a mixed message to your child when you insist on them apologizing for things that they have done wrong if you are not also living by the same standard. Even if you are rushed, or feel you’ve only done a small thing wrong, make sure to apologize to whoever it is that you might have hurt, be it your child, your spouse or a stranger on the street.
Learning to relate to other people with empathy is a very valuable lesson to teach your children. Although some children just naturally seem to be in tune with the feelings of others, other times you might find that your child needs a little help. Always demonstrate empathy yourself, and share your observations of others with your child, such as “I think Dad looks like he could use a glass of lemonade after cutting the grass.” Given a little time and practice, your child will learn to sense the feelings of others, and will be more responsive to them.
Learning about integrity is a life-long journey that we start on as a child. Don’t expect your child to immediately think and do everything with integrity. Celebrate the victories when your child demonstrates good values, and help to counsel them when they slip up. Over time, your efforts will pay off, and you will have the satisfaction of having helped to teach your child the value of living with integrity.
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse. As a mother of two incredible children, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting. One of my children has ADD, our journey of learning to come to terms with the diagnosis and figuring out what works best for us has been a challenge and a joy. Our son was diagnosed about two and half years ago, and we have had our ups and downs, joys and sorrows. If I can just offer you one day of hope or one idea that may work to help you and your family then I know that my purpose has been fulfilled.
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