Children make choices that may not have favorable results. Learn why we should instill accountability for kids with their choices.
This past weekend, my husband, toddler and I came home from the rose garden close to nap time. Once home, we offered him two choices: “Do you feel like napping now, or do you want to nap in half an hour?” We weren’t surprised when he chose to nap later.
When half an hour elapsed and we announced that nap time was here, he protested: “Want to stay in the living room.”
We then reminded him about the choice he made, and how it was him who decided when to nap. That simple reminder helped him understand that his own choices determined his nap time. Maybe he felt that since he made the decision to nap at a certain time, that the idea must be a good one.
We held accountable him for the choices he made.
We’ve since applied this same accountability to other circumstances. We give him options on which food to eat or what activity he wants to do next. And so far he has accepted responsibility for what he chose.
Why we should instill accountability for kids
- They learn that consequences follow choices and actions. Kids realize that their choices relate to what comes next.
- They realize that their choices relate to what comes next. They are more likely to think through and be deliberate with their choices. They know each one bears consequences and will avoid impulsive decisions.
- They feel like a contributing member of the family. They’ll learn that their choices can bear weight in the family. But if we’re fickle with their choices, they might learn that we don’t always take them seriously.
But we shouldn’t hold kids accountable for everything. Kids don’t have a choice all the time. If it’s cold, they should wear a jacket, regardless of whether they would choose to or not.
They’re also too young to be 100% accountable for their choices. We shouldn’t burden them with choice-making for every possible action. That’s a job for parents, not kids. And sometimes you just have to pick your battles.
And too many choices can inundate everyone, even adults. Offering people too many choices isn’t freeing, says psychologist and author Barry Schwarz’s The Paradox of Choice. Too many choices stump people into not making any at all. But offering a few choices helps them make clearer decisions.
As our toddler grows up, we’ll hold him more accountable for his choices. He’ll assume more responsibilities and get new privileges. With consistent consequences, he’ll learn to weigh choices and follow through on them.
Get more tips:
- What to Do when Your Kids Refuse to Do Chores
- How to Teach Our Kids to Embrace Mistakes
- The Difference between Rules and Responsibilities
- How to Get Your Kids to Clean Up After Themselves
- How to Stop Nagging Your Child to Get Stuff Done
How has the opportunity to choose affected your kids? How do you hold kids accountable? Let us know in the comments below!