As a parent, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “But it wasn’t my fault,” or some version of this many times over from your child. Children are exceptional at passing blame to others (and creative, too!) and pleading the fifth when asked what really happened.
As cute or imaginative as some of their excuses may be, it’s important to teach them how to take responsibility for their actions and words. The likelihood of the dog always getting the cookies off the counter seems pretty slim!
So how do you teach young children about responsibility? Check out some of these tips:
- Keep Cool. One of the most important lessons you can teach your child about responsibility is honesty. Unfortunately, we sometimes too often jump to rash behavior and overreact when our children do something “wrong”. Make it easy for your child to be honest by keeping a level head when they tell you what really happened. This will make it easier for them in the future to open up to you. This isn’t to say they still shouldn’t receive some sort of consequence for their actions, but it should be discussed with them in a calm manner so they understand the situation.
- Praise Positive Behavior. Whether they told you the truth or took responsibility for an action without you having to ask, it’s extremely important that you praise their positive behavior.
- Don’t Confuse. It’s easy as parents to let certain things slide, especially if it’s been a long, hard day at work and you’re not willing to battle the children, but sticking to the rules is essential for children. Children who see that they can bend parents’ rules are more willing to push them and it shows you are not serious, which they will smell a mile away.
- Visualize. Children are visual learners (although it’s also best to verbally remind them as well), so to teach them responsibility, use a chart or some sort of system that they can visually follow to see how there are doing. Label or describe these as “responsibilities” not “chores” as children can take better ownership of “their responsibilities” versus “mom and dad’s chores”.
TKD Tip: Make sure responsibilities and expectations are age-appropriate. Think about attention spans of each of your children and make sure you’re giving them responsibilities they can do without much frustration.
Parent/Child Activity: Create a competition. Kids love a little competition, so set up a responsibility competition for everyone in the household. Each person starts the week off with seven stars. Anytime someone makes an excuse or doesn’t take responsibility for their actions/words, they lose a star for that day. The person with the most stars at the end of the week gets to pick a fun family activity or special treat.