Children and Accountability

It’s interesting to seeing what others give as parenting advice. What I’ve been seeing lately is a lot is about being careful “not to blame” a child. “Don’t blame the child. Try not to blame,” is a constant thing parents and caretakers hear and read as they raise children. But this is contradictory to when we say we want our kids to be accountable for the things they do and have done (whether accidents or not).

You want your child to learn to be responsible and to take responsibility for their own faults. These are things that they can learn from and change. It doesn’t matter that people make mistakes, it’s that they own up to the mistakes.

But who is to blame? The lampshade? The hamster? Someone needs to be accountable. If blame equals fault, then somebody needs to be at fault. Why is it we’re living in a world where no one wants to take accountability for any of their actions? From government to children, how will any of us grow and learn from our actions? You are a fault for choosing to behave a certain way for picking on another child. You are at fault if you push the pot over and it broke. When we are children, accidents and testing boundaries are how we learn what is right and wrong. But more importantly, it’s how we learn to take responsibility for our own actions. We make mistakes, we have regrets, but we are all human beings and we must take responsibility for our own personal actions.

Blame isn’t always a negative word. Maybe as a society we need to look at the stigma and negative connotation around the word. Why can’t we teach our children that sometimes they make poor decisions and teach them how to take accountability for those decisions? I think, when you boil it down, the deep-rooted problem is that we don’t want our kids (much like ourselves) to feel ashamed. But this is not a bad emotion to own. It exists in all human beings, so why are we trying to cancel that emotion when it lives in all of us?

Children need to learn those feelings shame, sorrow, regret and a myriad of other emotions over the choices they make that might not be appropriate or harmful or that negatively impact someone else. Sometimes this is a good thing for children to feel because it leads to better decisions in life. It helps you question your behavior, separate ego, examine the underbelly for the true primary emotion under being ashamed that leads to that feeling. So the next time your child tests boundaries or does something wrong, do not be afraid to call them on it. Use this moment to teach them accountability.

Remember in the long run this helps your child make better life decisions, to own up and take responsibility, and leads to a more understanding life where they will come to know themselves better and hopefully make the world a better place.

Copywritten by Jo Frost

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