One of the best things that you can do for both your child and your entire family is create a culture of accountability in your home. Accountability is a powerful trait for both children and adults to have, yet few of us really have it.
What is a culture of accountability?
Accountability is taking responsibility for your actions, following the rules, and the way you react when something unexpected or stressful happens. The best way to make yourself and your child more accountable is by adopting it as part of your household culture.
When you adopt a culture of accountability in your home, you display the values yourself, as does every member of your family. Your child cannot be the only member of your family that is accountable; you are in this together.
So how do you create a culture of accountability at home? It is not as difficult as you might think! Here are five tips to get you started.
1. Set clear rules and make sure they are understood
The first way to ensure that your family becomes more accountable is by setting clear rules. It is difficult for your child to hold themselves accountable to the rules if those rules are muddled or are only enforced by one parent or role model.
It is not enough to just set the rules, though. When you set your rules, sit down with the members of your family, individually, and ensure that they understand what these rules mean (and what they don’t include). Ask your child to word the rules in a way they will understand, and make sure they know what will happen if they don’t abide by these rules.
2. Set consequences, not punishments
One of the most important parts of creating a culture of accountability is making sure that your child does not get away without consequences when they break the rules or blame others. However, there is a fine balancing act between facing consequences and being punished. The latter will quickly lead to a poor attitude and strained relationships.
Consequences can include punishments – toys taken away, limited time on iPads, not being able to go out with their friends, extra chores. However, it’s very important to make sure that your child understands why they are facing consequences and what they can do next time to abide by the rules.
Punishment hurts. Consequences teach.
3. Stay involved with their lives
Especially as your child grows older, it is important to make sure that you stay involved with their lives. There is a strong correlation between a healthy child-parent relationship and understanding and abiding by the rules.
Staying involved in their lives has a host of other benefits, but make sure not to overdo it. By pushing yourself into their lives more than you should, you could alienate your child and cause them to act out against the rules.
4. Stay consistent
There are few things that can ruin your budding culture of accountability more than being inconsistent. As a parent or guardian, it can be difficult to stay strong against your child, especially if they are upset. However, being selective about when you enforce rules undermines the rules themselves.
Children who receive inconsistent consequences grow up thinking that rules won’t apply to them. They become empowered to disregard rules and the consequences that their actions might have on others.
Also make sure that, if you have a spouse or partner, that they are on the same page as you. Getting away with rule-breaking with one parent is just as detrimental being inconsistent yourself. Talk to your partner and establish the rules and consequences together, before setting them for your children.
5. Start with yourself
This has been mentioned in many blogs before, but the most important influencer on your child is you. If you don’t start building the culture of accountability with yourself, then you won’t be successful in building one at all.
Show your children when you have made a mistake or broken a rule. Let them see the appropriate way to accept blame and deal with stressful situations. Do not blame others when it is really your fault.
As a life coach, I praise children when they stick to the rules and remind them if they veer off the path a little. If we set a goal to wake up on time and they don’t follow through, then they don’t get the reward for it… no matter how much they want it.
Building a culture of accountability is not an easy job. Taking the blame and sticking to the rules can sometimes feel like the worst thing to do, but it is a great trait for your child growing up.