February 2011 - Integrity


The quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity


“Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather.  It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won’t cheat, then you know he never will.”  John D. MacDonald

“Whatever the mind of man creates, should be controlled by man’s character.”  Thomas Alva Edison

 “Integrity is telling myself the truth, and honesty is telling the truth to other people.”   Spencer Johnson

“Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do.”  Don Galer

Teach Integrity

Integrity means standing up for what you believe in as long as it is based in truth: not settling for something that is less than what you deserve; speaking out when there is injustice; being true to yourself, and yes, honesty.  To be sure if you have integrity, you are an honest person.  But not all honesty stems from integrity. There are situations where you have a choice to be honest, even if you have a chance of not being “caught.”  

What does being trustworthy mean to you? As a parent we want to trust our children to make the right choices when we are not around, to do the right thing when presented with a childhood dilemma, and to come to us with their problems. There will certainly be some decisions they make that we will not approve of or be happy with, with all the obstacles they face and a large amount of peer pressure from other children. So, how can we develop trustworthiness in our children?
Trust is an issue that should be established between both parent and child. This, as every other issue parents teach their children, always starts with the parent teaching by example. Children automatically trust parents as their caregivers, nurturers, teachers, and providers, but that trust can be broken when parents do not live up to those standards of care. Trust is defined, as having a firm reliance on the integrity or ability of a person or thing, whereas a person who is trustworthy is one who is worthy of being trusted.

Therefore, being trustworthy to our children starts by making sure we keep our word to our children, although life throws us curve balls and there are many times we make a promise and are unable (by no fault of our own) to keep that promise. Talk to your children about these circumstances, before these issues present themselves and how they affect the things we hope to be able to do or the promises we make.


Integrity Activity Ideas

Providing assistance or being useful is the main definition of being helpful, when we are giving of assistance we are doing a great service to others, and honestly, to ourselves. Being helpful is an excellent quality and impressive characteristic to display.

Every award handed out; almost every honorary prize ever won was from that person being helpful to others. And from the beginning of times people have been helpful to one another, only to never expect anything in return for your helpfulness or generosity is a far more impressive and wonderful characteristic.


No matter what we do as parents everything falls back on us teaching them the most important characteristics that will get them through their adult years. When you are at the store, be sure to hold a door open for someone, if someone at the grocery store has their hands full, offer them help with their bags, or if someone you don’t know drops something be sure to pick it up for them. Anything that is presented to you that you can help with, with or without your children, do what you can to incorporate that helpful behavior with your children. When your children see you being helpful to others they quickly learn how being helpful can both be fun and rewarding.

Read to your children stories that center on being helpful. Talk to your children about the story, asking them questions about the characters and their actions. “Did you think rabbit did the right thing at the beginning of the story? How would you have done this? How do you think squirrel felt about what rabbit did?”

Main points to address:

  • Teach by example
  • Read stories about having integrity

Grades K-3rd

When your child begins to demonstrate helpful characteristics reward their behavior. “That was really great the way you helped that person out. You get to pick the next family activity we do together. You deserve a reward for being so kind and helpful.”

Ask your child how it made them feel when they were helpful to someone. There is something intoxicating that comes with helping other people out and it really makes you feel so great, when you get them to help out once and they see how wonderful that feels they will want to continue to be helpful as long as they can. Even when others are helpful to them talk to them about how they feel, no matter which way the get or receive help it is a great feeling, one that everyone should feel at least once.

Main points to address:

  • Talk to your children about how it feels to be helpful and how it feels when someone helps them.
  • Reward their helpfulness.

Grades 4th-6th

One great way to get your children motivated with helping others is to take them to programs that need volunteer helpers. Whether that is at a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, a children’s home, a senior citizen home or a hospital you can volunteer to serve the homeless, read to children, play a game with seniors or do various other activities that are helpful to other members in your community to get them started on being helpful now and in the future.

Helpfulness can come in many different ways as well, talk to your child about being helpful at home, in school, with their friends and family and how that will emanate back to them when they are the ones who need help. When they do something helpful for someone else, that person will do something to be helpful to them to repay their kindness and this type of chain continues on and on.

Main points to address:

  • Do various things in the community with your child.
  • Talk to your child about other ways to be helpful.

Activities for older children

  • Join a service organization like the Camp Fire Boys and Girls. Check your local listings for phone numbers, or call the Camp Fire Boys and Girls by calling their national headquarters at (800)669-6884. Organizations like these provide ample opportunities for being helpful to others.
  • Have the whole family volunteer to work in a homeless shelter. You may have an opportunity to make beds, serve meals or play with the children. Be certain your children can play a substantial role.
  • Participate in a service project together, such as a community park cleanup, a Habitat for Humanity project (call 1-800-HUMANITY for more information), or a Sierra Club service trip (call Sierra Club National Headquarters at (415) 977-5500).


Books to Share With Children

Read books that illustrate and encourage Integrity. Check your library for some of those listed here. Each one provides opportunities to discuss the results of showing Integrity.

  • Grandpa Never Lies by Ralph Fletcher 

  • Why the Chimes Rang  by Raymond Alden

  • Thinking by Richard Allington
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen
  • The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food  by Stan & Jan Berenstain

  • Sniffles by Stephen Cosgrove
  • Moose by Michael Foreman
  • The Cabin Faces West  by Jean Fritz
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brian
  • Jackie Robinson by James Olsen
  • Soup by Robert N. Peck
  • Soup and Me by Robert N. Peck
  • The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
  • Adventures of Nicolas by Helen Siiteri
  • Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
  • Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams