Tips on Teaching Children Accountability From an Early Age

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Accountability grows over time as children learn about the world and develop an understanding of personal responsibility. While this process happens naturally as they mature, a child’s background has a significant impact on how strong their sense of accountability becomes. 

Families play a very big part in teaching children to become accountable for their actions. There are many steps parents can take to instil personal responsibility from a young age. 

Model Accountability for Kids

Your child looks to you as a role model for how to behave. To teach them to be accountable, you need to take responsibility for your own actions.

This means admitting when you’re wrong or have made a mistake and apologising when necessary. If you want your child to be accountable, you need to show them what it means to be responsible and stick to your word. 

Hold Kids to Account 

It’s possible to instil accountability in very young children without being harsh. Introduce age-appropriate tasks for kids to be responsible for, such as packing their toys away at the end of the day. Link completing the task to an activity, such as watching a favourite TV show.

If kids forget to complete their task, give them a gentle reminder. If they refuse, remind them that this is their responsibility, and that they won’t get to watch their show until the task is complete. This teaches children that their actions have consequences, and they have the ability to decide how they’re going to behave. 

Gradually Increase Responsibilities 

In order to develop a sense of responsibility, kids need to be given responsibilities. It sounds simple, but a lot of parents baulk at giving children chores because they don’t want to overburden them.

Kids who are given tasks to complete, such as packing their own lunch or setting the table for dinner, feel good about themselves because they’re contributing to the household. They learn to see themselves as part of a family unit that works together. As a result, they’re less likely to develop a sense of entitlement and expect everything to be done for them.

Don’t Cover For Them

Many parents are good at holding kids to account at home but shield them from consequences in the outside world. For example, if a child fails to complete their homework or assignment, it’s common for parents to write a note to cover for them.

While this is done with good intentions, it does children no favours in the long term because it teaches them to avoid accountability. If your child asks you to cover for them, gently explain why you can’t and discuss the reasons they’re struggling to meet their responsibilities. 

Give Positive Feedback 

It’s easy to identify when kids make mistakes, but it’s just as important to acknowledge when they do the right thing. When your child takes responsibility for their actions, tell them you’re proud of them. 

When they complete tasks, such as making their bed and cleaning up, give positive feedback so they learn that although being accountable can be hard sometimes, it also comes with positive rewards. Just a few words of encouragement can make a big difference for kids.

Children who learn to be accountable from a young age will develop confidence and resilience.