We try to teach our kids a lot of things. Sometimes it feels like there is too much.
Eat healthy food. Brush your teeth. Be polite. Be patient. Work hard. Don't give up. Be a good loser AND a good winner. Not too much screen time. Get outside. Tell the truth. Use your words. On and on.
Some things are cut and dry and concrete. Others are more abstract. This came up recently with the idea of "integrity" and I was able to use other people's example to illustrate the concept to Brady, whose school defines it as "Doing the right thing when no one is watching."
It's a good definition, but how does a 7-year-old really know what it means? Whenever you can, use real life examples of someone displaying the abstract trait or even times when they don't. This gives them a tangible expression of the word.
Here are the two examples I used, both of which he was a part of and benefited from:
Change from a car
We bought a car and had it detailed. When we picked it up, the guy gave us a handful of change including a Sacagawea dollar, about $3 to $4 worth of change. He told us they always return whatever they find in the vehicle.
We gave the change to Brady, who was with us, and then I explained what had happened. We went inside so Brady could thank the man and he told him very exuberantly, "I collect these gold coins!" After we left, I said, "That man showed integrity, didn't he? We would never have known that he found those coins. He could have kept them. He didn't have to give them to us. But he did."
Vreader from the restaurant
A couple weeks later we were in the big city of Wichita eating at a restaurant and Brady was with us. We go there for work once a week, and the next week it was just Jason and I at the same restaurant. A waitress walked out with Brady's Vreader in her hand. "I think your son left this here last week," she said.
We didn't even realize it was gone! I showed Brady and again told him, "They didn't have to give this back to us. We didn't even know it was lost yet and wouldn't have known where we left it. They could have kept it and we wouldn't have known. But they chose to give it back and that shows integrity."
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