The Importance of Teaching Accountability


Lesson: We must teach our children to be accountable! If we don’t teach our children accountability they will become adults that think nothing is their fault and that they are entitled to everything. I’m sure we can all think of an adult we know that acts just like that. ☹

As an educator, I can tell you that you would be shocked at the number of parents that have walked into my office over the years, blaming everything and everyone for their child’s misbehavior and wrong choices. I have experienced countless parents make excuses for their child breaking the rules and then proceed to try to convince me why their child should not receive the consequences that every other child in the school receives for the same behavior and offenses. Oh, and did I mention this happens right in the presence of their children?☹ I can’t over emphasize how damaging that is!

A child that doesn’t experience the consequences of their actions will always repeat those wrong choices and actions and they will increase in severity over time. When parents don’t hold their children accountable, then children believe they are entitled to have their way and to get away with misbehaving with everyone and in every setting. If we don’t take the initiative with teaching our children accountability, we are setting them up to struggle in relationships, with authority figures and in the workplace as they get older.

Here are 3 essentials our children need in order to learn how to be accountable:

1- Modeled accountability from their parents: The first way we teach our children accountability is by being accountable ourselves. It’s important that our children observe us holding ourselves to a high standard in terms of conduct. It is equally important that when we make a mistake and mess up, that we acknowledge our wrong and take responsibility for our actions. For example, if we tell our children we are going to do something and we don’t keep our word and follow- through, then we need to acknowledge that, apologize and make whatever adjustments we need to make in order to make it right and fulfill that promise. Another example would be, if we get pulled over by the police for speeding or running a red light and we know we were speeding or ran the light, then we need to acknowledge our wrong, apologize and take the ticket, without having a bad attitude about it or negative commentary complaining about the police.

2-Learn the importance of apologizing: It’s very hard for most of us to admit when we are wrong. To then be expected to apologize just adds to the reluctance that most of us experience. However difficult, apologizing is a critical element in the process of being accountable. To take it a step further, we have to not only teach our children the importance of apologizing but we must also teach them how to apologize. So often apologies come with a “but” or an excuse, or worse off with an attitude. Those things can take away from the sincerity felt by the recipient of the apology. The “how” behind the apology makes all the difference. (Will develop this process a bit more in a future blog article ☺)

3-Understand Consequences: I believe it’s really important to let children know what your expectation and rules are in any situation. In addition, I think its only fair that they also understand the consequences of not following through with expectations or breaking rules. Sit down with your children and go through the expectations, rules and consequences of home, school and any other place where your children will be spending time. It’s an imperative step in the process.

Application: Examine the 3 essential areas listed above and begin to take steps towards teaching your child to be accountable.

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