If you haven’t read part one, Discovering Dishonesty, click over to read it first. This is part two about instilling integrity in children who are caught cheating or lying in schoolwork.
I had to run errands, so I had my son come with me to discuss the infraction when I discovered dishonesty. With a house full of people, sometimes the quietest space we can find is the car.
Find a way to talk without distraction and interruption, your child will more readily open up if they have your full attention. I didn’t waste any time with pleasantries. He knew what was coming, so I asked, “Why? Why did you lie to me?”
Why did you lie to me?
This question is important. If your child cannot give an answer, continue asking and offering reasons why someone might lie. You want to get to the heart of the deception so that you know how to properly move forward.
My son’s default is, “It’s too hard. The work is too hard.” In this case, that’s not the whole truth. What he means is this: I got stuck on a couple of problems and instead of asking for your help, I decided not to do the work and see if I could get away with it.
He also doesn’t enjoy tasks that take “too long.” For example, long division can take some time to execute. Instead of working through the problems, he’d rather just skip it and pretend it doesn’t exist.
Wouldn’t that be great if we could do that in real life? I can think of so many places to apply his faulty reasoning! Number one on my list would be cleaning the bathrooms – and folding laundry would be a close second. I don’t enjoy those tasks, they take too long, so now they don’t exist. Hooray!
While that was a fun daydream, you actually can speak to your children about how we must engage in tasks that are sometimes unpleasant.
How should we move forward?
After unearthing his why, my next question was, “How should we proceed moving forward?” In other words, what are you going to change, and do you need my help? We discussed this and he admitted to needing more accountability from me.
As they get a little older, I have allowed my children to work independently in their rooms. They each have a desk, distractions from siblings are greatly reduced, and overall it’s quiet. It appears that I gave this child too much freedom before he could properly handle it.
He now wants to be near me while working, he understands that the temptation to skip work and lie about it will be greatly reduced if I’m close by. I love that he came up with a fix for himself! This shows a desire to change course and learn the discipline of doing hard things. He is being honest with himself and me when he says I can’t handle the independence.
For children who have cheated on homework, quizzes, or tests, you’ll want to follow a similar discussion.
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Instilling Integrity in the Homeschool Environment
While discovering the root of temptation, you can create an environment that makes cheating difficult.
- Math books in upper grades often have the answers in the back. I know parents who have cut that portion away to reduce temptation.
- Be mindful that a quick internet search can also turn up several websites with answer keys and be certain that your teacher manuals are put away in a safe place.
- Consider keeping the child close by until trust is regained.
Did you catch that last bit? We want to foster an environment where trust can be regained and integrity can be practiced.
What is integrity?
When you look up the definition of integrity, you’ll find lots of variety. It’s often defined as being honest. I think that’s an incomplete picture of integrity. I would define integrity as the quality of always behaving according to the moral principles that you believe in alongside the quality of being honest.
This definition allows for putting into practice accountability and safeguards to reduce temptation while upholding the truth. A simplified definition could be, doing what is right even when no one is looking.
Instilling Integrity Through Scripture Memorization
How do we drill the importance of acting with integrity? My first line of defense is memorizing scripture.
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” Proverbs 11:3 NIV
Scripture is a wonderful teaching tool to use when disciplining and character training.
- You can have a child write a specific verse a number of times and memorize the verse.
- An older child can utilize a Bible study technique to train their thoughts.
- The Sword Method of study asks three questions. 1. What do I learn about God? 2. What do I learn about people? 3. What does God want me to do? Have your child write the answers to these questions about Proverbs 11:3 and tuck them away on a bedside table for an easy reminder when temptation strikes again.
Character Building Books for Instilling Integrity
After we seek God’s truth, we read literature that teaches the character trait we’re working on. We have a few favorites for teaching integrity. The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson, The Empty Pot by Demi, and much can be learned from Jo March of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
Point out the strength of characters that act with integrity and the rewards bestowed upon them. Go ahead and reward yourself too, you’ve put in lots of good work training this child! Pour a tall cup of coffee, put your feet up, and do a little online shopping for yourself. You’ve earned it!
Don’t forget to give your child opportunities to practice integrity and reward their efforts. After all, the old adage stands true, “Practice makes perfect!”
This has been a guest post written by Courtney Day. She has been homeschooling for 9 years and resides in rural Kentucky with her husband and their four children. She is a freelance writer and speaker with a desire to encourage parents in their homeschooling journey by drawing from her own experiences. Her hobbies include gardening, reading, kickboxing, and long-distance running. You’ll often find her serving at the local food bank or fundraising for a worthy cause, just look for The Girl in Yellow. Contact Courtney at firstname.lastname@example.org
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