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Integrity: Comet Trait of the Month

"Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them." Brene Brown

For the month of February we will be focusing on developing the skill of Integrity with our students. We define Integrity as being honest and doing what is right (even when no one is looking). As educators and parents, we know how important it is for our kids to be honest and to show integrity. Many times when we teach our kids about Integrity, we solely focus on being honest, or telling the truth. It is important that we remember to teach our children that integrity is a higher level of honesty. Integrity is when we are "consciously making our personal values known to others" (Hoerr, 2017). It means that we do the right thing, even when no one is watching or when no one notices. Our integrity drives us to do the right thing just because it is the right thing to do. It means that we take responsibility for our actions when we make mistakes and we own our role in solving problems. It means that we stand up for what is right, even if it is hard or unpopular. Having integrity makes us feel proud, but can also feel a bit scary in the moment, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't act with integrity. 

The best way to teach our children how to have integrity is to model it in our daily lives. We can quickly and visibly admit to mistakes. This is a powerful way to show kids what it means to have integrity. We can think aloud when we are in a situation when we have a choice to show integrity. For example, I was at the grocery store one day and noticed that the checker did not scan the items that were under my cart. I had the choice to pretend I didn't notice or do the right thing. This was a great opportunity for me to show my kids the right thing to do so I alerted the checker to their mistake and paid for the items they missed. On the way home, I talked with my kids about the decision I had to make and why it was important to do the right thing. Other ways we can help our children develop integrity is by talking about the things we value and how to respectfully stand up for those values. Be sure to routinely applaud your children when they make the choice to do the right thing.  

We will be teaching this trait by reading books, watching videos, having conversations to define and understand honesty and integrity. It is important that we teach kids about honesty and integrity at the same time so they understand how honesty is a part of having integrity. Literature is a great way to help kids understand integrity. We can use the characters in the books to help us identify when they are demonstrating (or not demonstrating) integrity. We also see mistakes as an opportunity for learning. We will help kids learn to take responsibility for their actions and to learn that integrity also means taking a role in fixing the mistake. Through this, they will learn that sometimes acting in integrity will have consequences, but it is important to accept responsibility, including the consequences, that come from showing integrity. We will also work on teaching the kids to be assertive in their Second Step Lessons so they can respectfully stand up for what they know is right. Every morning, during the announcements, kids will have the opportunity to share what they are learning about integrity and honesty and will share stories from their own lives when they demonstrated integrity. 

Here are some other ways you can help teach your child about integrity at home:

  • "Talk with your kids about the relationship between responsibility and honesty. An important aspect of honesty is taking responsibility for your actions and admitting mistakes even when they're not obvious for anyone else" (Hoerr, 2017). 
  • Read books with your children and talk about the characters. Are they being honest and showing integrity? How do they know? Here are a few book lists with titles that can help you have discussions of integrity and honesty with your kids: https://www.the-best-childrens-books.org/teaching-honesty.html   https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/honesty-integrity     https://mommyevolution.com/childrens-books-honesty-integrity/
  • As you are watching movies or tv shows, discuss the characters actions. When were they showing integrity? What happened when they showed integrity?
  • Look for those real-life moments when you have a choice to show integrity. Talk with your children about that moment and share how it felt during the experience and after. 
  • Talk with your kids about times when you did and didn't show integrity and what happened and how it made your feel.
  • Look for examples of people who have integrity in the real world. Talk about that person together and how having integrity has impacted their life. 
  • Ask your kids how they would respond in situations that would require integrity (for example: What would you do if you found a wallet on the ground in the grocery store? What would you do if you saw a classmate teasing someone else? What would you do if a friend asked you to help them on their test/cheat? What would you do if the cashier at 7-11 gave you too much change back?)
  • Talk with your kids about how they might show honesty and integrity at home, at school, during a extra-curricular activity, etc.

We look forward to partnering with you to help our kids develop integrity. What an amazing world we would live in if we all were able to daily interact with honesty and integrity. Be sure to share your stories of integrity and honesty with your children. They learn so much from the example we set for them. In big and small moments, demonstrate the importance of living with integrity by being honest, doing what you say you're going to do, by standing up for what is right, and by doing the right thing even when no one is watching or no one will know that you did the right thing. Be the change you wish to see in the world.