Cheating happens every day. Athletes cheat by taking performance-enhancing drugs. Students cheat on exams and reports. Some executives cheat by ‘cooking the books’ to make their company appear more solvent than it is. If your child cheats, you may be wondering if you should worry since it seems like ‘everyone’ is doing it.
The plain and simple truth is that cheating is dishonest. Cheating allows someone to achieve something they didn’t earn. It also hurts innocent people along the way. Parents may be afraid that if their child begins cheating now they’ll develop a pattern of cheating that will continue into adulthood.
Luckily young children aren’t easily influenced by what they see on television shows, the movies or even on the news. They’re wrapped up in their own little world. They don’t pay that much attention to things which don’t directly affect them.
But even if children don’t pay attention to all the cheating they hear about, they may still cheat for a variety of reasons. This is partly because they may not understand the difference between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ yet. They may not understand that looking off a neighbor’s paper is cheating; they’re merely trying to keep up with everyone else in the class.
As children get older they begin to realize that cheating is wrong. Unfortunately, some children’s parents stress having good grades and so a child may feel the necessity to cheat to meet their parents’ expectations. One thing we can do to help a child who does cheat is to let off some of the pressure to succeed. Even though grades are important, perhaps it is more important that your child develops into an honest person.
Cheating doesn’t always mean your child has copied from another’s paper. They may be helping their friends by giving their friends the answers. They may also plagiarize another’s written work when it comes to writing reports. Some children will cheat because they think it’s fun to get away with something. Others cheat because they don’t think anyone cares.
What do you do if your child is caught cheating? Listen to the accusations and then listen to your child. Don’t overreact to their cheating, but don’t ignore it either. If your child is guilty of cheating, take the time to ask your child why they cheated and then listen to their answer. Teenagers may feel pressured to get good grades to be able to get into college.
Ask your child if their cheating was intentional. If it was intentional, explain that cheating tears down the trust you have in them. Cheating means they’ll also lose their teacher’s trust. The child may be asked to do extra work to replace the work they cheated on.
Let your child know that you love them but you are also disappointed in them. Explain that being dishonest, cheating and stealing isn’t acceptable. You don’t approve of this behavior and there will be consequences if they repeat the offense.
Spend time helping your child with their homework. Pay attention to how well they understand the lesson. Help them until they do understand so they don’t feel the need to cheat.
No parent wants to learn their child is cheating. When and how you deal with it can make all the difference in whether your child continues. Let your child know you love them but that you won’t tolerate cheating.