Do you ever have one of those days when you look at your kids and think “How did you get so entitled”? I’m usually pleased with my children. For the most part, they do what they are supposed to do, they are kind and courteous, and they help others. However, every once in awhile, when I find toys left out in the rain, laundry carelessly strewn about the floor, or an empty cereal box in the pantry, I find myself wondering why they think this behavior is okay. Do they just assume that mom is going to pick up behind them? Do they think I’ll just run out and replace the things they’ve ruined by not taking proper care of them?
It’s a strong parental instinct to want to give your child a better life than you had, but sometimes we go overboard and our kids start to believe they have a right to this better life without realizing it’s something they have to work for. As parents, we have to strike a balance between providing our children with support and equipping them with the skills to be successful in life. Are your kids entitled or accountable? Here are some things to look for to know if you’re striking the right balance.
Our Children Are Pushing Back on the Rules
If you never held your children accountable, they would never have anything to push back against. Having a child upset about you saying no is a normal part of parenting and is a good indication that you are doing your job. Discussions and interactions don’t always have to be negative, but sometimes holding kids accountable means they are irritated with us.
We Receive Small Amounts of Feedback
Don’t expect your child to constantly discuss things you talk about regarding accountability, but keep your ears open for those little tidbits. Your child may say a few words that sound a lot like something you’ve told them, or they may repeat a familiar principle that has been mentioned. These can be little reminders to you that what you are teaching your child is being heard, and is having an effect on them.
We Are Being Inconvenienced
That’s right – one sure way to know you are holding your kids accountable is when you find yourself at times being inconvenienced. If consequences were easy for parents to follow through, many more would. Too many times we state a consequence and then don’t enforce it. Maybe we said that television was off limits but we need our kids to be easily entertained for half an hour and so we let it slide. Maybe we said that bedtime was at eight o’clock but we were too tired to get up from the couch and start the bedtime routine. If we are never inconvenienced, it is likely that our kids are getting away with more than what is good for them.
Our Children are Growing Emotionally
Bringing accountability into a person’s life, whether it is an adult or a child, most often brings contentment. When you are sliding through the rules, a feeling of uncertainty pervades. If you are holding your children accountable, they will more likely have a feeling of peace and security that goes beyond any temporary conflict. There is security and stability in a system of rules. If your kids are overreacting to small problems, they are demonstrating that they don’t have that sense of stability. Conversely, if you’re doing your job, small problems will roll off their backs.
You are Modelling and Not Just Teaching It
If we want our children to be accountable to ourselves or others, we must be the first ones who are accountable. Being a good role model means doing whatever is necessary to show our children what it means to set guidelines for oneself. This involves sticking to it even when things get tough, and teaches our children more than any words ever could. Whether it’s making sure you get your chores done or owning up to your mistakes, your kids will learn far more from your actions than from your words.
Holding your kids accountable is a great life lesson, good for both student and teacher. When you raise children to be accountable, the whole world will benefit from it. Decide today whether you are actually holding your kids accountable, and take the steps to ensure you continue to enrich their life and that of everyone around them.