Broken promises have lasting effects on us as children. Even as adults, we carry this cloud of expecting people to fail us. Raising children with integrity can begin with us teaching them how to keep their promises. Parents can be intentional about how to teach your child the importance of keeping promises.
This post is part of the Building Virtues in Your Children Series
When I became a Christian, I would hear people say that we shouldn’t make promises. Actually, scripture was used to support the “rule” to never to make promises.
Matthew 5: 36-37 says, “Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just answer a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”
Letting your “yes” mean “yes”, and your “no” mean “no” is different from making a promise to me. Making promises are vows or pledges to take action about something and ensure it happens. Although we cannot control what happens in life, there are some things that we know we can try to ensure inasmuch as we can.
Our promises aren’t all wrong.
For instance, we make vows in marriage. We also surely can promise our kids that we will try to protect them to the best of our ability. I don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong or even sinful when it comes to making promises.
The Bible is full of God’s promises. God made promises or covenants with Adam and Eve, with Noah, Abraham, and all of us. Although He is perfect and never breaks a promise, our promises to others can be something beautiful and honorable as well.
Promises, from people, can be easily broken. Have you ever had someone break a promise to you? If you have, you understand the hurt that is created by mere words that let you down. Broken promises are damaging and hurt people. They also discredit your word.
Your children can build a type of integrity, even from young ages. They can learn to not make promises they cannot keep.
The very best way for us to teach our children to keep promises is by exemplifying integrity ourselves. That is a whole lot of pressure on us, I know. It means that we have to keep the promises that we make to our children.
The value of us keeping our promises to our children is immeasurable. We will be the example they want to resemble or the model they want to flee from. We have to choose which we want to be.
Here are a few ways to help your children keep their promises (mostly, by being a parent who they will learn it from).
At the beginning of the school year, make a shortlist of things you promise to do as your child’s educator.
Post your list up in your homeschool area for your kids to see. Do the same with your children. Help them come up with a few things they should promise to do as students. Here are a few promises you can list, and you will see why the promises are necessary.
- I promise to show you respect.
- I promise to listen to your ideas or perspective.
- I promise not to give up on you.
- I promise to expect nothing but the best from you.
- I promise to have fun during the week.
Set expectations and hold your child to them.
Especially when a child is young, set expectations with chores. I know we hear about chores all the time. We hear about how they help our children and how they help us too. Well, they also help children work on building trust, integrity, and keeping their promise.
You ever hear, “Mommy, I promise I won’t do it again.” “Mommy, I promise I will do the chore next time.” Setting the expectation with a chore chart establishes the opportunity for your child to practice keeping their word.
One thing I practice with my children every year is to make them a part of their chore chart for the year. Kids know there are certain chores they need to do. Having them pick the days or have a say in how often they do the chores helps them buy into the idea. They have ownership in keeping their promises to complete their responsibilities.
Developing specific consequences for not doing a chore will reinforce the need to keep their word. Follow through with the results of not doing chores, so children understand the significance.
Keep your promises (yep, you).
Children look to us for literally everything. Do not make a promise you cannot keep. In doing this, they will learn from you. If you say you will take them to the park, take them. A few times of you saying you will do something and not do it, builds a layer of distrust with kids.
Practice not giving definites unless you are sure. Then, practice responding to requests with things like, “we’ll see” or “maybe later” or even “no” at times. I remember false promises breaking my spirit as a child. Let’s not do that to our children. Let’s do better, even in the little things.
Teach your child the importance of keeping promises by doing it yourself. There is nothing like being a parent that your child can trust. It creates children that know how to walk with integrity.
Let’s build children with virtue and integrity. Help them practice good character and habits with the resources below:
Character Charts | The Character Corner
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!