In an effort to teach our children the importance of taking responsibility for their actions, it is vital that we help them think about the importance of responsibility before they misbehave, make a poor choice or find themselves in a difficult situation. Therefore, it’s never too early to promote accountability inside and outside of the home. In a lack of holding children accountable, they will find ways to shift blame, refuse to acknowledge or follow rules and, worse, continue to act out without any fear of repercussions.
If a child decides to cheat on his or her math test by glancing at and stealing another classmate’s answers but ends up getting caught by the teacher, he or she may say, “Well, I didn’t study for my test, so what was I supposed to do? What’s the big deal?” Rather than that child understand the importance of doing the right thing, or taking responsibility for not preparing for their test, they shift the blame and feel zero obligation to remain accountable for cheating.
However, as a parent, when you establish the importance of accountability in your home, first and foremost, your children will understand that they are fully responsible for their own behaviors and choices. More importantly, your children will understand that everyone has to follow the rules. Otherwise, we will have a society overcome with children growing into self-entitled adults with no regard for choosing right versus wrong.
So, how do you hold your children accountable for their actions?
When a child decides to blame someone else, nip their behavior in the bud by explaining that blaming someone else does not change the rules, period. In addition to setting moral standards and providing thorough explanations to your children regarding the importance of accountability, giving consequences and following through, it is also vital when explaining the value of responsibility. Your child should have a clear understanding that if he or she breaks the rules, there are consequences that will follow.
Holding your children accountable for their actions is crucial to their well-being and personal growth.
Perhaps your child was allowed to eat one cookie after dinner but decided to take three cookies instead. Although, in the grand scheme of life, eating a few extra cookies is not a life or death situation, establishing rules and following through starts with the smallest of responsibilities. So, perhaps their punishment is not having a treat the following day. This way, your child will begin to understand that no one is allowed to change the rules as they see fit.
In order to mold a child into a responsible adult, we must be clear about our expectations of them.
In a perfect world, we would not have to discipline or hold our children accountable for their actions. Many parents would agree that being the “bad guy” does not feel good, although our children probably think we enjoy being an enforcer. However, in order to mold a child into a responsible adult, we must be clear about our expectations of them. Remain clear about your rules and expectations and what your children can anticipate if they do not follow those rules. Also, help your child to understand why they cannot just do as they please.
Although explanations are not necessarily needed when establishing rules, helping our kids understand why goes a long way.
Sometimes, saying “because I said so” does not help your child to understand the importance of the lesson. If your child was, in fact, caught cheating on a test in school, rather than say “cheating is bad because I said so,” explaining the value of studying, reinforcing classroom rules and teaching your child about having pride in their school work will be a much more valuable and lasting lesson of character.
No child is perfect, and we certainly don’t expect them to be perfect, either. So, when you start to instill the importance of accountability, your kids may fall short of meeting their responsibilities. But raising children accountable for their actions is not impossible. It will take consistency, and with time and stability, they will learn the invaluable lesson of accountability.
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