Hugs And Love Aren’t Always Enough: Influence Through Accountability…

Posted: July 20, 2012 in For Parents and Guardians
Tags: , , ,

Sorry adults, but love and care and affection isn’t always enough.  Our kids need limits, and they need to be held accountable when they push or cross those limits.

We can’t hug the poor decision making out of our kids, and we can’t bribe them with stuff and freedoms if we want them to become capable adults.  We need to prepare them for the real world, and this means teaching them that there are consequences to their actions and that the good stuff must be earned.

Whether it’s our guilt  or pity that prevents us from being firm with them, or fear of their defiance and our embarrassment, we have to get over it.  If our kids don’t feel the pains or losses associated with their impulsivity or misbehavior, they’ll never feel compelled to change.  Remember that emotion drives behavior, so if our kids FEEL bad, or guilty, or ashamed, or disappointed in themselves as a result of something they did or didn’t do… THIS IS A GOOD THING.  No, we don’t want to pile on our kids and suffocate them with guilt and shame, but helping them to identify and FEEL these feelings will drive them to avoid them in the future.

Holding young people accountable for their actions is perhaps one of the most important skills we can develop as authority figures.  In fact, holding our kids accountable for their poor effort or thoughtlessness can be THE MOST LOVING thing we can do for them.  It shows them that we care about their growth enough to make them upset with us and it shows them that their development is more important to us than our need to not be hassled.  And as tired as we might be from dealing with our own lives, if we’re too fatigued to hold them accountable and follow through with our promises of consequences, then we most certainly can’t expect them to grow and do differently next time.

When we let our kids slide or when we protect them from feeling “bad” about themselves for the poor decision they made, all we’re doing is preventing them from growing and learning and reflecting.  There are countless ways that we can hold our kids accountable and promote their reflection.  Whether we hold them accountable by sitting them down and having a serious conversation, or we make them write an essay on why they did what they did, or we cut them off of their Facebook time (in conjunction with a conversation about what they did to earn them the consequence), we’re teaching them that their behaviors and choices do matter… and we’re challenging them to do better the next time.

Remember, holding kids accountable isn’t about our power and authority, it’s about maximizing the likelihood that they develop. So when you’re trying to figure out what to do with your kid, client or student after they messed up, remember to put your ego aside, and ask yourself what consequence you can enforce that would get them thinking and reflecting, and is also uncomfortable enough so that they won’t want to make the same mistake again.

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