We always say that children need to be accountable for their own actions – what they say, how they behave and the choices they make. When we teach children to be accountable for themselves we are encouraging them to spend less time on unproductive behaviour and to be responsible for themselves. And importantly, teaching them how to admit their mistakes and not blame others for their actions.
Why Should Children Be Accountable?
Once children hit secondary school this becomes much more important.Teenagers especially need to be accountable for the choices they make as there are so many more serious choices to make as they get older. They may feel pressure from their peers to behave in an adverse way. They will be exposed to temptations like smoking and drinking. Pressure to stay out late, go to parties and even take drugs. If they decide to go down these paths, there will be consequences. They should understand what those consequences are and take responsibility for their own actions.
Children also need to be accountable for their studies. Nobody else can study for them and they need to learn how to manage their workload. They have be accountable for how much work they put in and how much time they spend studying for exams – not just in terms of quantity but quality.
Trusting our Children
Can we trust our children to be accountable at this stage? How do we know they are doing what they are telling us they are doing?
There is no other option but to trust them and hope that they are working hard. We cannot be overseeing what they are doing for fear of disrupting them and them thinking that they need to be checked up on. Talk to your children about their studies (when they are not actually studying) and discuss what they are going to do and their study plan. Talk about the importance of being organised and the benefits it will bring so that they are aware of them.
Or if some of their peers are getting involved in smoking, drinking etc., discuss the problems this is causing for that child and their family. What are the health implications? Discuss the pitfalls of taking bad decisions, but then leave your child to it. Once they are in the big wide world or even at college or university they are going to have to be accountable for themselves, so why not start giving them the tools now.