Who are your children when no one is looking?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 6/14/2017

On the weekends, your athlete is under the lights and everyone is watching, but who are they when the lights go out and no one is around? What determines that they will continue to act like the leaders they are on the field, when they are not being watched by a crowd of spectators? 

If you want your child to be a person of character on and off the field, then it’s important for them to learn integrity. 

Integrity is the virtue that gives your kids the strength to do what is right when no one is watching. Here are a few thoughts to remember as you work to instill integrity in your athlete. 

Are you the parent of a youth, middle school or high school football player who’s looking for more tips or resources? Check out our Parent Guide, Parents 101 course, nutritious recipes and more.

Integrity does not = Rules 

Integrity is a heart issue; rules only manage visible behavior.  

“Raising kids of integrity does deeper than managing how much time they spend on their gadgets or out with their friends. It’s more than choosing their wardrobe or at what age they wear makeup,” says author and speaker, Dr. Tony Evans. “Raising kids of integrity means equipping them with wisdom to discern for themselves standards and boundaries." 

In order to do that, your athlete needs to know the why behind the what. As he learns the “rules” of behavior for being on a team, help him understand why following  those rules is important. At home, explain all family rules with the reasoning for those boundaries. 

As annoying as the “why” questions from your kids may seem, they are actually important for you to answer. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase: rules - relationship = rebellion? Well, rules minus reasoning can also lead to rebellion. 

Understanding the why behind the what will give your child the tools he needs to reason in situations when you are not around to guide his thoughts. 

Integrity grows as it’s recognized, praised, and rewarded 

It’s easy to praise and reward our kids for tangible things, like cleaning a room, making good grades, or scoring points in a game. But if you want integrity to grow in your child, you must be on the alert for the intangibles in your child’s life: selflessness, honesty, and follow-through. Keep your parenting radar up and be ready to recognize, praise, and every now and then, reward his integrity. If you water it, it will grow. 

When you are watching your child play, look for behavior that exemplifies integrity on and off the field. Take note of how they encourage their teammates or acknowledges an opponent’s good play.  

Integrity will get your child farther in life than a high-scoring game or an all-star trophy.  

Janis B. Meredith is a sportsparenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Her book 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents is available on Amazon.