5 Ways to avoid raising a cheater

Worried that your child is dishonest? Here's how you can make sure he or she grows up with honesty and integrity despite life's pressures and challenges.

Adults who cheat didn't just wake up one day with the impulse to do so. The act of cheating could have started out small; perhaps they started copying answers from a seat mate's test paper in elementary school. Maybe it started out as little fibs they told their parents about who broke the vase in the living room. However it started, cheating as a grown-up can most likely be traced to a pattern of behavior which began in childhood.

Why do children cheat?

Looking at it in the context of academics, cheating usually occurs in pursuit of their parent's approval through getting good grades. According to Dr. Terri Apter in an article on Psychology Today, kids are born with an innate desire to learn. When placed in a healthy environment, kids are encouraged to continue pursuing knowledge. But when they are pressured by their environment to excel, teaching them that the end justifies the means, they tend to believe simply getting good grades is equivalent to ability.

photo: dreamstime

Here are 5 ways parents can nip cheating in the bud before it becomes a deeper problem.

1. Teach kids that winning isn't everything

Remind them that failure is a part of hard work. Trusting--and enjoying--the process of learning is just as important as doing well. Their worth goes beyond numbers on their report card.

2. Encourage their desire to do what's right

By nature, kids want to make their parents happy; they also value feeling good about what they're doing. Remind your child to value being honest and to take pride in their hard work. A love for learning and knowledge will help them look past competitiveness and focus on excelling the right way.

3. Don't pressure them

Lowering your expectations can ease the pressure and help kids grow into their best selves. Don't get me wrong, some discipline is good but it has to be tempered with love and genuine concern. Remind them that when you scold them, it is for their own good. Talk to them, especially if they're over 5 years old and have the ability to explain why they cheated and what the reasons are behind it.

4. Set a good example

Let your child see you struggle. Parents always want their kids to see their best selves, but there's something to be said about letting your child see you fail and overcome, maintaining your sense of optimism and integrity through it all.

5. Teach them how to deal with failure

A fear of failure is normal. It only means you care. Showing kids that you falter, too is just as important as setting a good example. In fact, it is one the best ways to model integrity, by showing them how you rise up from failures and exhibit grace under pressure. Seeing their parents being faithful in the little things will help them grow up committed to doing the same.

READ: Do these 5 things to raise truly “good kids”, say psychologists

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