When talking about his hiring process, Warren Buffet said “Look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. Because if the candidate doesn’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.”
Integrity is when our behavior matches our beliefs. It is our ability to act in a manner consistent with the values, beliefs, and moral principles that we claim to hold. And it impacts our children in many ways – it helps them anticipate the consequences of their behavior, helps them make choices and decisions, forms the basis of relationships, and it allows them to find peace.
Integrity isn’t just about honesty or kindness. It really involves every decision we make. It’s about making the right choice for the right reason — not because of the recognition or praise we receive, but because it’s the right thing to do.
How we do one thing is how we do everything, right? If we, and our children, are comfortable living with integrity in one area of our lives, chances are we are living with integrity in other areas of our lives as well.
So, here are 3 things we can do as parents to help our children understand the importance of living with integrity:
1. Be clear about your family values
If integrity is our behavior matching our beliefs, and acting consistently with our values, it’s really hard for our children to act in integrity if they aren’t clear on their beliefs or values!
It is our responsibility as parents to shape their values and what they stand for. Their values are going to shape how they think, behave, and treat themselves and others.
If you want to get started with a great resource, listen to Episode 9 of the podcast and check out the show notes. This episode is all about how to write your family’s mission statement and I created this free resource for you – a really simple worksheet, to help your family get started in writing your own family mission statement. And the whole basis in writing the mission statement, is discussing your family’s values and beliefs. It’s a really powerful exercise.
2. Encourage assertiveness
If we want to raise children who can stand up for their beliefs, then we need to reinforce assertiveness over compliance. Let’s encourage our kids to share their opinions and stand up for what is right. And to do so from an early age so they can start to grow the skills they’ll need in the face of peer pressure to come.
The truth is that it takes real moral strength and integrity to go against peer pressure and to stick up for your beliefs. We can teach our children the skills to be assertive so they can stand up for what’s right. It’s teaching eye contact, standing tall, shoulders back, head up – these are the energetics that can help our kids be assertive when they need to be.
We don’t want to raise people pleasers or humans who are afraid to disagree with anyone. And the best place for them to practice saying no, pushing back, and disagreeing – as frustrating as it might be for us sometimes – is at home with us!
3. Model integrity for them
With parenting, more is caught than taught, right? Our kids are so smart! And there’s no quicker way to discourage them from acting in integrity, than if they see us telling them to do something we’re not doing ourselves.
We can ask ourselves, “If I were the only role model my child had for learning integrity, what would they learn from seeing me today?”
Am I the same person at home as I am at church on Sundays? Am I the same person driving the car as when I dropped them off at school?
They watch our actions, learn from our choices, listen to our comments and conversations, and are constantly assessing whether what we do matches what we say.
In what ways do you teach your children to live a life of integrity?! Let us know in the comments below!