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What does it mean to be accountable? 

As a person, we are expected to justify our actions and decisions.  Not only do you need to hold your children accountable but you also need to keep yourself in check. Responsible parenting  (accountable parenting) means your decisions need to be explainable. You need to be able to justify your actions and your decisions and so do your kids. You also need to be in control of your decisions.

Clearly define roles and expectations

When you or your children are unclear of your roles and what is expected, your life will suffer. Make sure you clarify all expectations of your home.

Some good things to think about to help clarify your own thoughts are below:

  • Do you understand what is expected of you as a parent?
  • What do you have for expectations of yourself?
  • Does your family understand your role as a parent?
  • Have I made my relationship clear with my family ?
  • Does everyone have a clear understanding of their own roles and expectations?

Hold yourself accountable

Our children learn from what they see. Owning up to your own mistakes can be the most effective way to show your children how to hold themselves accountable. Set the standard for which you want them to live by. When you are a responsible parent, your kids are more likely to be responsible.

When you model accountability rather than making excuses you teach that behavior to your family. By recognizing you may have hurt your child in some way and saying “I’m sorry I hurt you,” the child will immediately feel better. You were able to recognize them and show them the situation is about them and not you. By not making an excuse you are able to maintain a trusting relationship and also reinforce accountability as a value in the family.

A simple and honest apology for a mistake allows your kids to see you are holding yourself accountable, in turn allowing them to do the same. Owning a mistake actually communicates strength to your child. It gives them a feeling of security in knowing you make mistakes too, and that it is okay to do so.

Be consistent in your parenting

Consistency helps to develop routines. It sets standards and expectations and clearly lets people know what they can expect. Children love when their parents are consistent.

In discipline, in expectations, in bed times, in screen times. Consistency sets the basics for everyday life. Limits and boundaries create a balance and helps to teach kids how they should behave.

Be an involved parent

There is a fine line in involving yourself in your child’s life. It is natural for us as parents to want to protect our kids but try to keep in mind, mistakes are a necessary part of development. Kids learn so much by making mistakes and by living through the consequences.

An over involved parent can really harm a child’s growth, especially as they start to hit those teenage years. I remember so clearly when I was in college, I could pick out the kids who’s parents never let them make decisions. They were on their own for the first time and they were wild. It was hard to watch, the over drinking, over eating, over sleeping, and truly just over indulging because no one was there telling them not to.

Find your parenting balance

In my mind, you want to avoid being the “helicopter parent”, it is an extreme that does not seem to work well in the long run. The type of parent who just hovers over their child, not really allowing them to grow and mature. Kids who have helicopter parents tend to get the message that they can’t make decisions for themselves, so someone else has to do it for them.

The other extreme is being under-involved. These kids actually seem to be pretty good at decision making and being independent, because they learned it from their own survival skills. They are forced to learn the necessary skills through trial and error and are rarely given any guidance, support or encouragement.

It is best to find a balance, while living your own life as a parent and allowing your child to live their life. As your kids reach the age of maturity, those teenage years, they will have a built in confidence, allowing them to make decisions. Of course they will still need clear boundaries and a real understanding of potential dangers and regular check in’s with their family. But, outside of that, give them a chance to learn, grow, make good choices and also to make mistakes. Celebrate the positives and deal with the negatives.

Recognize the positives

Get yourself in the good practice of finding the positive things your children do and make sure you highlight those good things.

Accountability is not always about punishments, doom and gloom. Be sure to compliment the good stuff. Notice when your child is kind to another, when they return something that is not theirs, when they help with chores without being reminded or asked.

As a child, it can be nice to have positive reinforcement. Attention is always appreciated so why not find the ways to have positive attention!

Responsible Parenting Recap

  1. Clearly define roles and expectations
  2. Hold yourself accountable
  3. Be consistent in your parenting
  4. Be an involved parent
  5. Find your parenting balance
  6. Recognize the positives

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You may really enjoy reading our post about Teaching Children to Use Good Manners.