Talking to Your Kids about Cheating

posted by on 2012.10.22, under Learning and Growing, Parenting

It’s official: Lance Armstrong has been stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles. The native North Texan dominated the race from 1999–2005, also earning an Olympic medal in that time period. Read the whole story from the New York Times here.

Your kids may have grown up idolizing this local cycling legend, especially if you have some future Tour de France–ers riding around your house. And many kids recognize the yellow Livestrong wristbands that have promoted cancer awareness and fundraising.

So how do you talk to your kids about performance enhancers – of any kind? What will you tell them when they ask why Lance Armstrong is losing his titles?

You can use this unfortunate situation as a teachable moment for your kids. Here are some strategies for conversation:

Discuss the news. Tell your kids that Armstrong lost his titles because he has been accused of cheating. Most children understand the concept of cheating, while “performance-enhancing drugs” may not be age-appropriate. If your kids are older – especially if they’re involved in sports – this might be a good time to talk about steroids and other performance enhancers your kids may encounter.

Explain why it’s wrong. Talk about why cheating is wrong. Use examples your kids can relate to, such as cheating on a test or in a game at recess.

Ask their opinion. Ask your kids if they think Armstrong should be stripped of his titles, especially since he maintains his innocence. If your kids were in charge of professional cycling, what would they do?

Be a role model. Demonstrate the importance of good character in your home. Praise your kids for their character, not just their achievements. If your son scores three goals in his next soccer game, applaud his hard work and determination in addition to the hat trick statistic.

(Sources: Dr. Richard Rende for; Bonnie Rochman for

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