I have heard time and again that children will rarely listen to a parent's preaching, but will not fail to imitate them. We all learn by imitation; we teach by example.
So what is integrity? According to the Collins English Dictionary it means: 1. honesty. 2. quality of being sound or whole.
A positive example of integrity, is when Mahatma Gandhi, once declined to tell a young boy to stop eating sugar until Gandhi himself had stopped eating sugar.
I often hear parents say 'what do you say', so as to elicit a please or thank you from a child. I believe this is quite disrespectful to the child and, isn't using beautiful manners yourself the only true way to teach your children to do the same? Living what you want to teach!
So how do we lead our children into living with integrity?
I suppose number one is to live your own life with the honesty and wholeness that comes with living what you believe and doing what you say.
I know I have times where I suggest an activity with friends or say I am going to do a certain simple task and then I get lost in the busyness that is my life and realise I haven't lived up to my word. So these are instances in my life where integrity was absent and it would be through continued observations of experiences such as this that my children would learn how not to live with integrity!
So, I will strive not to make these mistakes and to learn to model integrity in everyway possible. Owning up to mistakes is also a part of living with integrity, as you are being honest about a fault in yourself and taking steps to rectify it, so I guess there is still some form of teaching/learning in here.
Another way to model integrity is to focus on honesty and give acknowledgment rather than punishment for telling the truth. The more we support children in helping them to face themselves honestly without being concerned about what anyone thinks, the more we will be helping them to trust and accept themselves for who they are.
According to Wayne Dyer, (What Do You Really Want For Your Children?) a child who is honest with themselves will be able to apply their uniqueness to any task in life. However a child who fools themselves, will try to behave in ways which are designed to win the approval of others, rather than being honest, which can limit them in so many ways.
I know through my own history, (yes I am still learning and making masses of mistakes!) my focus was on the approval of others rather than my own truth or intuitive integrity. The irony in this is that whenever you are seeking others approval, you just come across as 'a phony' and therefore instantly repel approval. However if you are connected with your own intuitive ideals or truth, there is no need to seek out approval and yet individuals who are living with this integrity will almost automatically receive it.
So the message here is to trust your own intuitive guide and to live that truth. We will make mistakes and go off track, yet as our children are always watching and learning, we need to be asking ourselves if we are leading from example in a postive or negative way? Are we living our truth? Are we practising or just preaching?
Mahatma Gandhi said 'My life is my teaching'.
What are you teaching?
Love this song by The Lamplights, 'Practise'......creatively illustrating what I have only just touched on. Enjoy!