Integrity: 6 Ways to Teach Kids How to Keep Their Promise
Pinkie promise and cross my heart, here are 6 ways to teach kids how to keep their promise and practice moral integrity.
My husband and our eldest son, Malcolm, had a huge fight during dinner. And the sole reason, RESPECT. To cut the story short, he asked Malcom to write a promise on a piece of paper. The note said, “I promise to be respectful and nice.”
Easier said than done, making kids keep their promise is like writing it on water. Guaranteed, they will break it.
Then how do we raise children who are morally upright and contributors of saving the falling value-driven society. How do we teach and build a good foundation of honesty and honor to our kids? As parents, we don’t just provide our kids food and shelter, but it is also our responsibility to prepare them for future relationships and commitment.
What is Integrity?
“With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.”
Put simply, integrity is being able to do the right thing even without supervision. It is choosing what is right over wrong even if it’s not convenient.
Integrity is being honest and true to good values. It is acting according to one’s conscience even without being seen by others. It also means honoring your word.
Common Kid Promises That They Can’t Keep
AT HOME/ CHORES
- I promise to drink my water.
- I promise to brush my teeth after the meal.
- I promise to take a nap. I promise to sleep early.
- I promise to clean my room after playtime.
- I promise to put my plate on the sink.
- I promise to finish my food.
- I promise to wash my hands.
- I promise to take care of our pet.
- I promise not to play with dirt.
- I promise to not get a toy in the grocery.
- I promise just one more slide.
- I promise I will not throw a tantrum at the park.
- I promise to keep my shirts clean.
- I promise I won’t lose it.
RELATIONSHIPS AND CHARACTER
- I promise not to hurt my brother/sister.
- I promise to share my toys.
- I promise to keep my hands to myself.
- I promise to be good.
- I promise I won’t do it again.
- I promise it wasn’t me.
- I promise I won’t ask for anything else.
Why Do We Need To Teach Integrity to Kids
A mom friend, Abby, shared how she explains integrity to her kids. And I quote her, “We often say, our words are as good as a promise so it reinforces self-discipline, self-regulation and personal integrity”. She expects his son will keep his words without nagging and guilt-tripping. Otherwise, it is a simple mistake that can easily be forgiven and improved.
Our kids will eventually grow and leave our side. They will meet different people who will test their values and character.
When we teach our kids about integrity, they learn the value of trust and honesty. They can build good relationships with family and friends.
Teaching kids the value of keeping his word makes them responsible for their actions. They will know how to earn people’s trust and will do things out of their own accord not because of recognition or obligation.
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How to Teach Kids to Keep Their Promise
Be consistent. At a basic level, keeping a promise means following rules. If we set some rules at home about things that they should or should not do, then we explain the reasoning behind the rules and help them follow it. A promise to clean the room is simply putting it as “packing up after playing”. By doing it consistently, it will develop into a habit. And as the saying goes, habit becomes character.
Recognize and celebrate when your child keeps his or her word. A simple thumbs up, a pat in the back or a nod can mean appreciation of a job well done. You can also get extra by giving him a treat. Recognizing your child’s effort boosts his confidence and desire to do it again.
Set a good example. Benjamin Franklin said, “A good example is the best sermon”. Our children might not always listen to what we say, but they will definitely do what we do. Children are like sponges, they quickly absorb what they see and experience. If we can keep our promises as parents, we become the persons they can trust. And eventually, they will mirror this value themselves.
Reminder. A good reminder can be done in different ways.
- Verbal. Remind and repeat strategy works well with my boys. Before we set our foot outside, we remind and repeat all his promises. Another way will be to make a note where he can easily see. Post it on the fridge, on the wall or on the door. Lastly, you can also ask your child to write his own version of his promise. That way, he understands well what promise is meant.
- Non-verbal. Make a gesture or sign that will remind him to keep his word. A thumbs up can remind him to brush his teeth. Or a pat on the shoulder means to keep his hands to himself.
Set expectations. As parents, we are probably the best persons to know our kids, what they are capable of, and what their limits are. Set expectations that are age appropriate and that they are able to do. You can expect a 3-year old to wash his hands but not to keep his shirt clean when he eats chocolate.
Speak with Truth and Follow Through. Be honest with your kids and always look for opportunities to teach them about integrity.
Children will sometimes fail to keep their promises. They will forget some of what they promised to do. And that’s okay. After all, their brains are still developing and they could be impulsive at times. As parents, we need to learn how to extend grace to our kids, and to ourselves. We do fail to keep our promises sometimes, right? We are in this for the long haul. Let’s make the most out of this opportunity to help our children develop into good, responsible, people.