Teaching children to take responsibility for their actions



We all know that ”one” adult in our lives who absolutely refuses at all costs to accept that they are in the wrong – even when they are so ”obviously” in the wrong. This adult will lie until they are blue in the face, is never wrong, can’t apologise – and has an unwillingness to accept their own human – ness.

What they don’t realise is that the only person they have fooled is themselves – and, the cost for their foolishness is huge. Unfortunately, this inability to look deeply within makes this person their own worst enemy, and the one person that healthy people stay away from.

I feel sorry for these adults. For whatever reason, they honestly are afraid of being wrong. To be wrong most likely triggers their shame, and other negative feelings. Whatever the reason maybe- unfortunately, this adult was most likely consistently shamed in childhood, and punished too harshly. Or, if not- somewhere along the line the behaviour may have been modelled to them, and has become inherited.

I don’t know anybody who feels ok about being called out on their poor behaviour. It is a humbling experience to be at fault – and It doesn’t feel nice.

A child who can learn to be responsible for their behaviour from a young age is immediately one step ahead (of the children who can’t) in the game of life.

I would much rather be in the company of someone who can see the error of their ways, than in the company of somebody who cannot. The person who can’t be wrong, can’t say sorry, and turns the argument back around, is a tad on the toxic side.

We do need to be careful with our little people. Shaming a child for doing the wrong thing may show up later in life in the form of  fear. Fear of of admitting fault, or for telling the truth. Punitive environments are renowned for putting fear into children,

Fear is one of the key reasons why some children do not want to accept responsibility for their own behaviour. The inner world of a little child is very black and white. Being naughty is associated with badness, and being well behaved is associated with being a good person.

Children do not want to feel the guilt that comes with having done the wrong thing. This is why it is very important to explain to our little people that doing something wrong, or treating somebody badly does not make you bad – it makes you human – and humans make mistakes.

The insight gained in child hood, and the apologies made now will pay off in adulthood.

I applaud my children when they apologise. I applaud them when they look deeply within – and I commend them for the bravery it takes to accept responsibility for their behaviour.



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