honesty and integrity

How to Teach Integrity to Your Kids

C.S. Lewis once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” Oftentimes, we talk about this idea of honesty and integrity without grasping what it truly means. What if I told you it was not a single action, but a mindset you needed to develop? Integrity is born in the mind and heart of a person. It comes from who you really are as a man or woman and what you really believe about right and wrong, good and evil. And integrity is exhibited not in just one act of goodness but in your whole character.

To teach your kids how to harness this vital virtue, you must first ask yourself if you really believe in the importance of modeling a life of integrity that your children can follow. If so, here are 4 practical ways to teach integrity to your kids. We need to teach integrity in:

1. What we say:

When you speak, people need to be able to trust that you will be true to your word. With a mindset of integrity established, you will find that you’ll be much more likely to speak truth and follow through with what you’ve said. This echoes the reality that we need to be careful to let our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no.

2. How we say it:

Do you find yourself speaking to your children in a sarcastic or condescending tone of voice? Replace this attitude with a patient demeanor. Once you have developed a mind and heart of integrity, positive actions and words will more naturally flow forth. So hold on to your integrity by honoring your family in the way you talk to them on a daily basis.

3. What we do:

Perhaps the most obvious, yet most important, way to teach your kids integrity is to lead by example. I know I often remind my kids not to speed on the highway, yet constantly drive too fast myself. Or, do you ever tell your kids to stop texting at the dinner table, only to check emails in the middle of a conversation they’re having with you? Start being a model for your kids and live a life of integrity that they can follow.

4. How we do it:

We had a couple of guys come to our house to repair our air conditioning duct work. They didn’t repair it right and within a year we had to have it redone again. These contractors took shortcuts when they thought no one would find out, yet the truth eventually surfaced. Learn from their mistake and teach your kids to do everything with excellence from the start, even when no one is watching. Why? Simply because it’s the right thing to do!

Here are some more resources on integrity:

Sound Off

How do you teach integrity to your kids? 

Mark W. Merrill

Mark is the president of All Pro Dad and Family First , a national non-profit organization. He is also the voice of a daily radio program called The Family Minute.

  • Ben Williams

    Thanks for this article Mr. Merrill. I really appreciate the direct focus that you put on this subject. It is easy for me to assume that my children will have a sense of integrity automatically ingrained in them as a by product of the way that my wife and I are trying to raise them (since I am doing everything perfectly, and set a perfect example – sarcasm). But I think that directly addressing the idea of integrity in our lives, and the value in it just because it is the right way to live is invaluable. Thank you for the reminder.

Subscribe to the Play of the Day for daily advice, videos and updates on how to be better dad.

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think it means to have integrity?”

foster and adoption
Did You Get It?
Every Man's Bible
Florida Prepaid