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Help Children Take Responsibility - Part 1

Posted in Parenting Corner

Some children have a hard time taking responsibility for their faults and weaknesses. A debriefing after a discipline time is always helpful. When your child is ready to go on with life take a few moments and talk about what happened.

We encourage parents to ask, "What did you do wrong?" This question helps get the conversation going. Ask in a gentle way, not accusing. This allows your child to admit what he or she did wrong. It's important for children to take responsibility for their actions. If others were involved, as they often are, a child should not excuse misbehavior by blaming someone else. The foolishness of others doesn't justify a wrong response.


A common mistake parents make is to engage in dialogue about the whole situation, trying to figure out who else was wrong, what was fair, who started the problem, and why such things happen. Those questions may be helpful at times, but you'll get much further in helping your children change their hearts if you start by asking "What did you do wrong?" Most children don't like to admit their faults. They either blame others or just try to overlook the problem.

Your simple question can help children see their own mistakes and learn to take responsibility for them. When two children are fighting, for example, be careful not to focus on just one child's offense. Usually when two children are fighting you have two selfish children. Ask each of them this simple question. Teach the offended child how to respond properly.

Confession is a spiritual skill that children need to learn. It helps them take responsibility for their part of the problem and that's always the first step toward change. All of this can be started with a great introductory question, "What did you do wrong?"