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How to Teach Children How to Be Responsible for Their Own Actions

by Tiffany Raiford

Your child might be more than happy to point to her brother and blame him for the fact that she didn’t clean her bedroom like she was asked to do so that she can avoid trouble. Your kids don’t understand that taking responsibility for their actions is a smarter choice than relying on the age-old, “It wasn’t me,” and “He did it!” Your child is not the only one doing everything but taking responsibility for her actions. Her lack of responsibility simply means that you have to start teaching her how to be responsible for her own behavior.

Point out that your child’s lack of responsibility does not solve the problem at hand, advises social worker James Lehman for Empowering Parents. When your son tells you that he only called his sister a jerk because she wouldn’t play with him, talk to him about how his behavior doesn’t fix the problem. The problem in this case is that he used inappropriate language. Her behavior might not have been nice, but his name calling was a result of his poor decision making skills at that moment.

Rely on natural consequences to help your child learn to take responsibility for her actions, advises Jennifer Marrero and Pamela Weine of Broward County School District in Florida. When your child refuses to do her homework, don’t allow her to blame her actions on someone else. Allow her to suffer the natural consequence of getting a bad grade and being unable to participate in a classroom celebration or fun activity. She’s responsible for doing her homework every day and facing the consequence of failing to do it helps to teach her that taking responsibility for her own actions can prevent negative consequences.

Stop making excuses for your child and his behavior, advises Lehman. Your child will never learn to take responsibility for his own actions if you are constantly stating that it’s your fault he didn’t have time to do his homework or that it’s your fault he was mad at his sister or his friend. As long as you are taking responsibility for his actions, such as saying you forget to remind him to do his homework and that’s why it isn’t done, he’s not learning to take that responsibility on himself.

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