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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