As a father, few things are more embarrassing than being called to the principal's office because your child was caught cheating on a test. This not only makes your child look bad, but it also makes you look like a bad father. The worst part is that you don't know why your child would do such a thing! Your first reaction might be to say, "That can't be my kid." But that only makes the situation worse. Believe it or not, your child is capable of doing something wrong from time to time. If your son or daughter has been in trouble for cheating, here are some suggestions for dealing with the situation so they'll think twice and even three times before they ever do it again.
- Determine why your child is cheating. If they're young, it could be because they don't know that cheating is wrong. If they're older, there could be other reasons. Maybe they feel too much pressure to do well on their tests. Or maybe they simply didn't study for a test because they were too busy watching TV the night before. If they're cheating at sports, they might be looking for a scholarship to their favorite college. Before you can decide the best method of action, you'll need to get to the bottom of their reason for cheating.
- Accept their faults. All too often, parents are afraid (or too arrogant) to accept the fact that their children have faults. Cheating is just one of the many things your child might do wrong. If you're lucky, your child will only cheat once before learning from their mistake. When it happens, you shouldn't dismiss it as "kids being kids" or a misunderstanding. Accept the fact that your child cheated and deal with it immediately.
- Start teaching them early. Some kids might cheat because they see others doing it and they've just never been taught that it's wrong. You might be waiting until the right time to talk about it, but there's no time like the present. Before you know it, they could be teenagers cheating on their mid-term test and getting expelled from high school because of it. The best time to start talking about cheating is when they begin school. Children learn most during their first few years and they also absorb a huge amount of what they're taught in these years. Start now and avoid the embarrassing phone call from their teacher later.
- Explain why cheating is wrong. Young children are generally trying to learn right from wrong. With them, you can simply explain that cheating is "wrong." But cheating isn't only wrong, it's unfair to those who work hard without cheating. You can always use the cliché "Cheaters never win," but that loses meaning if you say it enough. Explain that cheating only undermines their actual abilities and makes them feel less confident. Hard work pays off much more than cheating because you actually get long-term benefits from it. Your child might not understand this concept now, but they will as they get older.
- Discuss the consequences of cheating. If you've ever cheated on your taxes, you've probably spent some sleepless nights staring at the ceiling and wondering when Uncle Sam will catch up to you. If children aren't taught the consequences of cheating, they might not have this type of conscience to remind them what will happen if they decide to cheat. They might even think it's okay to cheat if there's not chance of getting caught. On top of reminding them why cheating is wrong, drill into their heads the consequences of cheating, including embarrassment, punishment and even prison if they get caught cheating at the wrong thing when they get older. Most children will simply avoid cheating because it's wrong, but you might need to use the "scared straight" method with others.
- Play board games on family night. Some children cheat simply because they don't like the humiliation of losing. Even with family board games, they might feel like winning is important. But you can turn this around by setting aside one or two nights a week to play games with the family. When your child loses, be sure to be a good sport about it. Don't chant things like "loser" or taunt them when they lose. This will only make them want to cheat next time. Show them that losing and being happy are still okay so they can see that playing fair and giving it their best shot is much more important than winning, especially if it means they have to cheat.
- 7. Allow some time for video games. With the exception of using cheat codes, it's nearly impossible to cheat on video games. Allowing your child to play video games that enhance skills and patience will help them transfer these traits into real-life events and situations. If they're playing video games with a friend, they can even learn how to lose graciously and be a good winner. Just don't let them play so long that they become cross-eyed. Choosing the right video games and letting them play in moderation can be a great tool to help them avoid cheating.
- Let them suffer the consequences. If you've received that dreaded phone call from your child's teacher, don't try to get your child out of trouble. Allow the teacher to punish them as they see fit (as long as it's reasonable) and then discuss the situation with your child in private. If their dad gets them out of trouble, it's not teaching them the negative consequences of cheating.