Teaching Kids to Own Up To Their Actions
We have all seen it; our children break a lamp, get in trouble at school, or get a bad grade on an assignment. What do they do? Typically, they blame someone else. “It wasn’t MY fault, she pushed me into the lamp”, or “The teacher didn’t give us enough time to do the work, it wasn’t my fault”.
Children tend to blame others for their mistake. Why is this? Young children don’t really understand that everyone makes mistakes. They may blame someone to avoid disappointing their parents or to keep from getting into trouble.
These children need to be taught that blaming others isn’t the right thing to do. As the child gets older, they do know better, but those children who weren’t taught to take responsibility for their actions continue to blame others. These children play the “victim” and they will continue to play that role until they are taught to take responsibility for their actions.
How do children learn responsibility? Typically, they learn it three different ways.
- Watching you! Do you tend to play victim? Or do you take responsibility when something goes wrong? Children learn best from example, and their best role model should be their parents.
- They learn from being taught. When a child makes a mistake, teach them to own up to it. Instruct them with encouragement-not blame. .
- Through Life lessons. If they are forced to deal with the consequences of a bad decision, they are more likely to not make that mistake again.
Why You Should Teach Kids to Own up to Their Actions
As a parent, it is your job to teach your child to take responsibility for their actions. Teaching your children to own up to their actions teaches them to be more responsible individuals and will have long-term affects.
They Will Learn Their Actions Affect Others
Children need to learn that their actions not only affect them, but other people too. Begin explaining to your child at a young age that their behavior affects others. Try to appeal to their sense of empathy.
Children who recognize that their actions can disappoint their parents, or hurt their siblings may be more likely to take responsibility for their wrongdoing. For older children remind them that they are role models. They have others looking up to them, and counting on them to make good choices.
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They Will Learn to Live with Consequences
Life is about choices, and offering children choices at a young age is a great way to teach them responsibility. Examples of this could be reminding a child to pick up their toys. When they don’t pick them up like you asked-throw them away. Or put them up until they earn them back.
They had a choice to clean up, and chose not to. They must now learn how to deal with the consequences. This will prepare them for when they are older, and have the choice whether or not to turn in an assignment on time, do their homework or attend class. Giving them this opportunity teaches them that their choices have consequences; it also teaches them that they are capable of making a choice.
Teaching children to live with the consequences of their actions will help them learn that every choice they make has a consequence. These consequences can be positive or negative. Letting your children handle a negative consequence is the beginning of teaching them how to take responsibility for their actions.
They Will Learn Responsibility
Responsibility is a trait that is highly lacking in today’s society. Teaching our children to take responsibility for their actions is something that parents NEED to do. Children gain a lot from learning responsibility. We can give them responsibilities at a young age, through chores, or participating in things as a family. When a child completes their chore or job, they may receive a reward or payment.
When they don’t, there should be consequences. Giving children responsibilities in the home will make them feel like an important part of the family. Having responsibilities at home tend to make a child realize they have responsibilities in other areas as well. When children act responsibly they tend to be more accomplished at school, and their organizational skills improve. Children who are taught responsibility are more likely to strive to reach their fullest potential.
Better View of Themselves
When children are taught to take responsibility for their behavior, they begin to view themselves in a better light. They consider themselves responsible, trustworthy, and reliable. In order for our children to be successful later in life, they need to have a deep sense responsibility. Teaching our children to be responsible also helps build their character, making them more independent and self-reliant.
How to Keep Your Kids from Playing Victim
Children who have not been taught to take responsibility for their actions may begin playing the “victim” role. Nothing is EVER their fault; if the child is never taught this, the victim role can continue into adulthood. This is why it is crucial for parents to teach their children to own up to their mistakes, and to take responsibility for their actions and choices. There are a few ways to do this. The methods work best when started young, but can also be used with slightly older children.
Play on their built in sense of right and wrong
Children are born with a built in sense of fair and unfair, right and wrong. Talk to them about how they would feel if someone else blamed them for something they didn’t do, or, if someone broke something of theirs and didn’t tell them. Allowing them to watch or recognize other children being responsible for failing to take responsibility plays on this sense.
If you have a child who has started playing the victim role talk to them about why they shouldn’t blame others. Then tell them you are going to begin tracking their progress. Let the child start off the week with a set amount of points. Each time that child makes an excuse or tries to place blame, she loses a point. Hang up the chart and challenge them to make it through the whole week with points left. Reward them when they meet this goal.
Control Your Emotions, and Be an Example
When your child plays victim and blames another for their actions try to stay calm. Don’t show that you’re upset. Ask your child what could have been done differently? See what answer your child comes up with, offer suggestions if the child seems stuck. By showing them that you can stay calm and collected, and allowing them to recognize what choices led to the incident, they can learn the right way to take blame. This leads the child to be more responsible and over time, they will be less likely to blame others.
From a young age help your child see that there is a link between ones choices and the consequences. Point out real life examples like their brother got an A because they studied hard. Or that their toy was broken because they left it out. Point out examples in your life as well, like you forgot to set the alarm, and were late to work. By pointing out examples in real life your child will be more likely to recognize the link between his choices and the consequences that may come from them.
If you desire for your child to come to you with the truth, or at least admit when asked that they made a mistake, be sure to make honesty easy. You can do this by keeping your cool when a child makes a poor decision. Praise them for being honest, but be sure to keep your emotions in check. Let your child know that everyone makes mistakes and that the most important thing is learning from those mistakes and trying to right their wrongs.
Discuss with your child how things could have gone differently, and what they may do the next time they are put in that situation. One of the most important things to remember when teaching our children to take responsibility for their actions is to talk to them. Go over misbehaviors and follow through on consequences.
Also, remember to allow your children to make mistakes, but remind them that every mistake has a lesson to be learned from it. Don’t allow your children to blame others for their bad behaviors. Talk them through the behavior, and ask what they could have done differently. Be consistent in these areas and your child will learn how to take responsibility for their actions.
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