Instilling integrity in children is a foundational aspect of their character development, shaping their moral compass and guiding their actions throughout life. Teaching kids about integrity isn't just about imparting values but engaging them in meaningful activities that reinforce these principles.
Through a range of interactive integrity activities, children not only learn the importance of honesty, responsibility, and fairness but also actively practice and internalize these virtues. Explore 15 activities to help kids develop integrity.
Definition of Integrity for Kids
Integrity is the quality of honesty, having strong moral principles, and sticking to them even when no one is watching. In kids, integrity develops through consistent modeling and guidance. Initially, it starts with teaching them the difference between right and wrong, encouraging honesty, and rewarding ethical behavior.
As they grow, experiencing the consequences of their actions and observing the behaviors of trusted adults further molds a child’s understanding of integrity, shaping their moral compass and internal sense of right and wrong.
The Importance of Cultivating Integrity in Kids
Teaching integrity to kids is crucial as it lays the foundation for their moral development and shapes their character. It instills values that guide their actions, decisions, and relationships throughout life.
Integrity helps them navigate ethical dilemmas, fosters trustworthiness in their interactions and cultivates a strong sense of responsibility. Additionally, it contributes to their self-esteem, as acting with integrity often leads to a sense of pride and self-respect, enabling them to become conscientious and honorable individuals in society.
Overall, children who learn the importance of integrity experience increased happiness and satisfaction [*].
15 Activities to Help Kids Develop Integrity
Children aren’t always motivated to choose the “greater good.” However, trying these integrity activities can inspire them to do the right thing!
1. Lead by Example
Children take after others in their immediate environment. While they may not yet grasp the complexities of adult decisions, leading by example can help align their inner compasses. In fact, children can differentiate between right and wrong before they reach age two [*]. Model integrity by being honest, avoiding gossip, and being accountable for your mistakes.
2. Give Your Child Opportunities to Speak Up
Help your child establish their values and beliefs by providing opportunities to speak up. Start simple. For instance, you can ask them to decide what they want for lunch or dinner. If you’re eating out, ask them to pick the restaurant. They’ll develop a healthy sense of independence.
3. Share Your Experiences
Recount experiences that highlight moral dilemmas and discuss the choices you made. Encourage kids to think about what they would do in similar situations. For instance, you might discuss a time you had to tell a white lie to make someone feel better.
4. Try Trust Exercises
Trust exercises can be a fun and meaningful way to teach children about the importance of trust in relationships. Some trust exercises you can try are the trust fall, trust circle, and blindfolded obstacle course.
5. Praise Your Child for How They Exhibit Integrity
Integrity may not always come naturally to children, so praise them when it does! Tell them they’re doing a good job when they’re respectful and honest—it’ll reinforce good behavior.
6. Host Playdates
Who your child associates with can significantly influence the kind of people they turn out to be. Get to know their friends by hosting playdates. Encourage them to associate with kids who are honest, communicative, and uplifting.
7. Encourage Small Commitments
Encourage kids to make small commitments and follow through on them. Promises can be as simple as feeding a pet or completing a task. It reinforces the importance of keeping promises and being dependable.
8. Reflect Through Art and Journaling
Allow children to express their thoughts and feelings about integrity through journaling, drawing, or other creative means. Being creative helps them explore their understanding of ethical behavior enjoyably.
9. Volunteer in Community Service Projects
Volunteer work or community service projects teach children the value of giving back, being compassionate, and acting for the greater good, fostering a sense of responsibility and integrity. Consider simple volunteer activities like handing out bowls at the local soup kitchen or donating kibble at the animal shelter.
10. Work on Your Child’s Social Skills
Developing social skills is intricately connected to fostering integrity in individuals. Social skills encompass communicating effectively, empathizing, collaborating, and navigating relationships positively.
Use our social skills worksheets to widen your child’s perspectives, build trust, improve their conflict resolution skills, and enhance cooperation.
11. Read Books About Integrity
Many classic children’s book characters offer examples of positive moral behaviors. Charlotte from “Charlotte’s Web,” for example, does an excellent job of teaching children about friendship, kindness, and sacrifice.
Share our All About Integrity handout for an additional resource to supplement books and lessons on integrity.
12. Set Virtues Goals
Goal-setting is a healthy activity for motivating your child to do better. When setting academic goals, leave room for virtue-based goals. For example, if your child expresses that they want to be more patient, list actionable steps to achieve this, such as taking turns, sharing, and breaking down bigger goals into smaller steps.
Use our Goal-Setting Tips for Success handout to make specific and actionable goals.
13. Play “What If?”
Teaching integrity can be challenging if your child hasn’t yet needed to apply it in real life. Playing “What If” introduces hypothetical situations that encourage children to reflect on their potential responses. You can provide scenarios, such as:
- What if someone asked for too much candy from you? Would you give them all your candy? Why or why not?
- What if someone asked you to play, but you were too tired? What would you say?
14. Create a Values Collage
Have children create a collage using images and words from magazines that represent values important to them. Encourage discussions about why those values are significant and how they relate to integrity.
15. Create a Kindness Chain
Start a chain where each link represents an act of kindness or integrity each child witnessed or performed. Encourage kids to add links with examples of ethical behavior, creating a visual representation of their collective positive actions.
The Bottom Line
Understanding integrity can be enjoyable for children and adults alike! Through reflection and self-awareness, children can learn what it means to be fair, kind, and self-assured.
Reinforce how to demonstrate integrity with the help of our character education posters.
- Ramaekers S. “The Narrative of a Happy Childhood: On the Presumption of Parents’ Power and the Demand for Integrity.” Power and Education, 2016.
- Sloane S, Baillargeon R, Premack D. “Do Infants Have a Sense of Fairness?” Psychological Science, 2012.