3 Ways to Help Your Child Say ‘No’ to Cheating

By: Rebecca Post, Guest Blogger

As another school year draws to a close, your children will be taking exams and completing final projects. You may assume that your child would never cheat, but you may also be aware of Americans’ shifting values around cheating. It seems that even some educators cheat. Most recently, 35 educators in the Atlanta Public Schools were indicted for falsely improving students’ test scores.

Academic dishonesty comes in many forms, including getting the answers to a test beforehand, passing off someone else’s work or writing as your own, looking at someone else’s answers during the test, using “cheat sheets” during a test, and falsifying or fabricating data.

Fortunately, parents can take some simple steps to help their children refrain from cheating. First of all, make a point to bring up cheating over dinner and find out what your children observe in their classmates. Start the conversation, then arm your children with ways to avoid cheating.

Dr. David Wangaard, co-author of Creating a Culture of Academic Integrity, suggests that parents give their children the following reasons to avoid cheating:

  • Cheating will hurt your reputation – and your family’s reputation. Ask your child, “How do you want to be known by others?” No one wants to be known as a cheater, and no one wants to bring embarrassment to his or her family.
  • Cheating is not fair to others. Appeal to your child’s sense of fairness and ask, “How do you feel when a classmate gets a better grade than you because his older sister wrote his English paper?” Remind your child that everyone isn’t cheating. There are many honest people in this world.
  • Protect your personal integrity. Remind your child that there are times when it’s necessary to take a stand and state, “I’m not going to violate my personal integrity, and I believe for society to succeed I must choose not to cheat.” Don’t underestimate your child’s belief that they can do things to make the world better.
  • Dr. Wangaard and his co-author, Dr. Jason Stephens, also recommend that parents take some specific steps to support student integrity:

    1. Establish a well-organized workspace for homework. Children will recognize their parents’ commitment to learning if a place and resources are dedicated to their studies.

    2. Help your child manage his or her time. “I ran out of time” is a common excuse that students give for cheating. Although some children are naturally organized in completing their homework, not all are. Ask your child about upcoming assignments and tests and find ways to break big assignments into smaller manageable tasks.

    3. Recognize the boundary between helping with homework and actually doing the student’s homework. It might be tempting to write that suddenly-due paper or create that poster project for your child, but your child will be short changed in the learning experience.

    Students feel a lot of pressure to get good grades, and national surveys report that most students say that they have engaged in at least one form of cheating. Nevertheless, as a parent, you do have influence over your child’s sense of integrity and the choices he or she makes around school work. Parents are, after all, children’s first teachers, and your expectations do matter.

    Rebecca Post is the director of content development at Search Institute. She has worked as a book editor for most of her career. She and her husband are successfully surviving the empty nest, now that their only child is in college.


    These are excellent suggestions. It is hard for a child to see others being successful by cheating, but if parents model integrity at home and encourage honest behavior in their children, cheating will not be considered a viable option.
    Helping children develop refusal skills can contribute to their development of a strong value system. For a complimentary article, “Teaching Children Refusal Skills,” click below:

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