Teaching Kids About Integrity

What tall orders we have to fill as parents!

We don’t sleep for years.  We eat cold food.  We suffer through potty training “acthidents”.  We trudge to ERs for midnight ear infections.  And we shoulder the responsibility of teaching our kids not only their left from their right, but also the more  challenging concepts of what is “wrong” and what is “right”.

At 3 and 5, our kids have started to show us that they can grasp the concepts of “temptation” and “integrity”.  (For knowing what those big words mean, I credit “Veggie Tales” episodes.)

Our daughter will tell you that “temptation is when you want to do something really bad that you shouldn’t do”.  She’ll also tell you that “integrity” is doing the right thing even when no one is looking.”  (For those lessons, just play the episode about Larry Boy and The Bad Apple a few hundred times.  🙂

Larry Boy And The Bad Apple

But, regurgitating the same phrases that come out of a highly unnatural talking pickle is vastly different from practical application of the principles.

Here is a real-world example of how the concepts of “Integrity” and “Temptation” are tackled by us parents.


My 3 year old boy wearing the Pottery Barn Kids Bat Costume we bought 2 years ago that he has refused to put on his person until moments before I snapped this photo yesterday.

I promise this costume is relevant.  Bear with me here.

After this pic was snapped, I noticed the peculiar scent of chocolate on my kids.

“Did you eat chocolate?” I asked.

My son answered.  “Yes.  I ate 3 chocolates.”

Our daughter said she hadn’t.

“Are you guys supposed to sneak chocolate when mommy’s not looking?”

Both kids shook their heads to indicate “No”.

I decided to leave it at that.  Easter had just passed.  They must have found a plastic egg.  No biggie.

But, then I went downstairs and I saw this on the floor in the guest room.  Our boy must have left one of the three wrappers on the ground….

When I bent to pick it up, I saw this on the side of the recliner.  Hmmm…This must be where he ate those THREE chocolates he told me he’d eaten…

And when I bent to pick those three wrappers up I’d forgiven him for sneaking because of the unspoken “Easter Candy Chocolate Eating Alibi Period”, I caught a glimpse of where Chocopalooza had happened right under my nose….

I don’t know.

I’m thinking he ate more than 3 pieces of candy.

I remembered the glass trifle dish in the kitchen that had been HALF-FILLED with Hershey’s chocolate mini-eggs and found this…

I made the kids come into the room.

They both looked awfully guilty.

I asked them again.

“Did you guys eat a bunch of chocolate while Momma was upstairs folding laundry?”

My son said “yes”, still too young to understand the benefits of lying.

Our daughter emphatically stated she had NOT eaten any chocolate.

So, I told them to open their mouths so I could smell their breath.

And then my daughter came clean that she HAD had a little chocolate.

I asked if they remembered Larry The Cucumber’s lesson about temptation and integrity.

I asked if it was right that they snuck chocolate without asking.

I asked if they should have asked first before sneaking it.

I asked if they knew why they were in time-out.

I asked if they were going to do it again.

And I almost asked another question but I realized that I’d lost my son about 4 questions ago.

This is what I saw.


This is what I saw.

A combination of pure fascination by those centered fangs directly above his eyes and a probable case of selective ADHD led my kids eyeballs to alternately focus on my very stern parenting face, and those darn fangs that kept making him go cross-eyed right in front of me every 10 seconds.


Me, neither.

Aw, well.

I’m sure I’ll have another shot to teach that lesson more effectively.

Once I finish up these chocolates and stop laughing at the memory of my cross-eyed son, I’ll get right back on that.

 For some resources about how other parents have cracked this nut, you can check out these links (and that Veggie Tales video I talked about up there!):

Five Ways To Build Integrity As A Parent by Orange Parents

Raising Kids With Integrity by Parent Further

Raising Kids of Strong Character:  Integrity by Savvy Daddy



(See?  I told you that costume was relevant.)


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30 Responses to Teaching Kids About Integrity

    • Chrissy- Yes! It totally cracked me up, thereby meeting my very stringent criteria for posting about it- I laugh=blog post. haha! True about the breath-test. I plan to buy a home breathalyzer unit for those days. 🙂

    • Stephanie- My kids and my husband definitely get into less trouble for their cuteness! Such unfair weapons to wield!

    • Haha! Well, Bridget- I think my kid was funny- but it’s no used toilet paper rolled back up on the roll…. haha! Your kids won that one. haha!

    • Funny that Taryn was tickled, too- but I bet she gets all kinds of laughs at your house with the Twinkies!

  1. Wow, Trish. Can’t wait for this three month visit…I am hiding ALL of my chocolates! I have also bought plastic safety covers for the outlets and bumpers for the fireplace, haha. You will need to help “child proof” the rest of my house!

    • Jenny- that’s a good plan. Liam is a hoover and super sleuth when it comes to finding junk he’s not supposed to get into! haha!

  2. I would have blown the whole moment for laughing out loud! So glad you can focus on the child/relationship and not the breech in ethics. Knowing you’ll love them anyway reduces their need to be sneaky as they grow up- which worth more than a 100 mountains of chocolate! 🙂

    • Lainie- That is very, very sound advice to keep in mind! In the moment, I was seriously struggling with whether or not I was supposed to let myself laugh about it. haha! But, then, my lack of discipline took over anyway and it didn’t matter. haha!

    • Oh, Rebekah- Just you wait until Miss E discovers she can be B-A-D and get away with it because she’s so darn cute. haha!

  3. WOW! Your children are already familiar with those BIG words, that is an A+ for them and for you as parents! (And for the Veggie Tales, as well!)
    Too cute!!! Too funny!!!! Sometimes we can only do half of the lesson…the other half just has to wait! 😉

    My son also tried to lie to me one day when he was 3 years old…He wrote on the leather sofa ;-( with a marker! and the furniture that wasn’t even paid for at that time! He said it had been a “stranger who walked into the house” and he added that he was “furious!” about it. Then I told him he needed to say the truth because if I found out he wasn’t, I would never be able to believe him and he would be very sad knowing he is saying the truth and mommy doesn’t believe him! He said,”I’m sorry mommy. I am going to say the truth. I helped the stranger DECORATE the sofa.” I left it at that just making sure he knows no stranger can come into our home ever again!

    • Elizabeth- your son is a total riot!!!! Your stories are always blog-worthy- You should totally start one about him. haha! And the sofa? I’d have been mad! No, wait “furious”- like your son said. haha!

  4. Ohmygod. I’m laughing and shaking my head, because that’s not my kids – it’s ME! So far, they’ve both been very good about respecting the rules and owning up when they’ve broken them. But if you crept up on me during any of the last five days of term-paper-writing? You would’ve seen a pile of wrappers from MY KIDS’ Easter candy. *hanging head in shame* Maybe I need to start watching Veggie Tales 😉

    • Desi- As busy as you are- you don’t need to justify sneaking junk! haha! I can’t believe how much you are doing right now!

  5. Chocopalooza! That’s genius. At least your kids had brains enough to hide the discarded wrappers – my guys leave Hansel and Gretel trails. When it comes to integrity, I got nuthin. I tell them if they eat too much chocolate, they’ll get a nose bleed and they’ll stop because they prefer to PICK THEIR NOSE bleeds rather than induce them.

    • Nami- That is so funny about your sons! All kids are nose-pickers and I’m convinced all adults are recovered nose-pickers. haha!

  6. This is so classic Trish! Hahahaha! So true about parenting, all the time I wonder, if I’m doing it right. I lose my patience and composure time and time again. I know they know I love them to bits though. I’m glad I married a really super husband.

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  9. My kids are older, but I ran across your post looking up some things to go over integrity with them as a reminder. I enjoyed this this sooo much. I remember these days. LOL

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