Let’s start by defining what it means to be accountable; being accountable would mean taking responsibility of actions, including making required improvements, and not repeat mistakes with or without the presence of some external controller. The virtues like accountability and responsibility are the outcome of patience and empathy we show while correcting the erring child. Most people assume that punishment is what helps human to do the right thing; that however is a futile measure. Many types of research now suggest that kids who are punished are less likely to make positive moral choices. Wondering how; here is how:
- Punishment shifts your child’s focus on ‘consequences’ he/she will be suffering rather than the consequences that their behaviour may have on others.
- The most prominent lesson that a child learns from punishment is to avoid it in the future by sneaking and lying to escape. This fosters dishonesty.
- Feeling bad is a self-fulfilling prophecy and punishment makes the child feel bad; therefore he/she is more likely to repeat the behaviour for which they are punished.
So then how to make your child accountable without punishing him/her? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Guide them
Some mistakes are made unknowingly; children may not be aware of the consequences of something wrong they did; in events like this you need to guide them through and explain the right way. Your ill behaviour or angry outbursts will leave them confused as they already find it difficult understanding their wrongdoing.
2. Talk instead of yell
Raise your argument, not the voice – this works the best when you intend to make child accountable. Don’t end up terrifying the kids with a loud voice and abusive words, or worse, physical punishment; Show exceptional patience instead and talk to them with genuine concern.
3. Play in the same team
When a mistake happens, it is advisable to not be on loggerheads with the child. Instead, show your empathetic side and work things out with them so as to explain to them how their actions can be hurtful to them as well as others.
4. Practice ‘time in’ instead of ‘time out’
When the child has landed in trouble due to their actions, include them in managing the aftermath with you, instead of putting them on time out and feel alienated. By including them in the correction process, they know where they went wrong and how not to repeat the same error in the future.
5. Scaffold instead of a scold
Learning is a never-ending process and your child needs support to develop and harness their skills. So, if they don’t know something or make a mistake, owing to their lack of knowledge, don’t de-motivate them by expressing disappointment or undue frustration. Guide them to do things correctly and be patient while they learn.
6. Point out the mistakes assertively instead of aggressively
Body language has a lot to do when it comes to communicating well. Be more expressive verbally as well as physically while connecting with your children. Pat their back while consoling, put your hand around their shoulder while explaining their error. This also demonstrates them the right way they should adopt while expressing themselves.
7. Reconnect regularly
Sometimes children make mistakes to get parent’s attention. Ensure they don’t feel neglected; boost your relationship by giving them enough time. Indulge yourself during this time doing activities they enjoy. Such moments are no less than rewards for your children. It makes them relieved that they are doing well and are loved for their flawed selves as well.
So, patience, perseverance, connection, and empathy are the tools that you must use if you want your child to be more accountable and responsible.