Accountability is a great characteristic to have. Being accountable means understanding the implications of one’s actions and having a certain level of self-awareness to understand when something is not appropriate. Accountability isn’t just about taking ownership over one’s mistakes, it can also regard owning one’s achievements as well. Translating this to a child may be a bit difficult to do. However, enforcing accountability on children is very possible.
Be Clear on the Rules
Set clear rules that a child can understand. All children are truly looking for is an understanding. For example, a child still won’t understand when a parent tells them they can’t go outside when it’s cold and raining. They are still looking for a reason. Most children ask many questions not to be rude, but to simply gain some kind of understanding. Adults already know why certain things can’t be done through experience. However, one should keep in mind that children have not had many experiences to know the consequences of certain actions. Explain what will likely happen as a result of doing certain things. This doesn’t mean that the child won’t try to do those things as some children must learn through their own personal experiences. However, it does help build trust between parent and child as well as show the child that their parent has their best interest at heart.
Consistent Consequences and Efficient Rewards
Holding one’s child accountable means having consequences for their disobedience to the set rules as well as efficient rewards for their achievements. Children will learn that if they don’t clean up their toys, then they can’t go play outside. It is important to enforce these rules consistently and not give in. Parents should take the time to confirm that their child followed the rules. This teaches accountability and gets the child in the habit of cleaning up after themselves. Children don’t have to be rewarded materialistically all the time. Simple praise is a reward that children recognize well.
Be an Example
Monkey see, monkey do. Children are like sponges, and they absorb much of what they see in their immediate environment. If a child doesn’t see their parents being accountable, then the child will find the same excuses to not be accountable either. Again, children are just seeking an understanding. Being a physical representation of the rules one wants to enforce will greatly impact the child in a positive way. Leading by example is often the most effective and efficient way to impart important life lessons on your children.