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Helping Children Take Responsibility

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Hi Church Family!

Summer is really here-triple digits and all! As most of you know, Doug and I have been the proud foster parents of Nate (13) and Lucio (10) this past year. We are happy to announce that on July third, we will become their adoptive parents!

These brothers are very close, yet not with out normal sibling personality clashes that arise in all families. Because of this, I've been spending a lot of time reading and looking for helpful information to deal with the various issues that come up. Teaching them a new way to deal with such problems lead me to this article, and I thought I would share it with you for those relationship areas in your lives that could also use enhancement. Hope it helps!

Have a great summer and keep cool!

Pastor Barb


Helping Children Take Responsibility

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. Sometimes children don’t even know what they did wrong. You may have to tell your child, but don’t just say it and have your child agree; actually have the child repeat back to you what was wrong and to take responsibility for it.

Some children, when asked the question, “What did you do wrong?” will respond, “I didn’t do anything wrong” or “I don’t know,” but they actually do know. In this situation the child is defying the process and trying to skirt the issue. If this is the case, you’ll want to have the child sit in a chair for a while until he or she is ready to come and deal with the problem. It’s surprising how quickly a child can remember what the offense was when told to just sit and think about it.

Confession is a spiritual issue. God asks us to confess our sins to him and He also tells us to confess our sins to each other. Debriefing with a Positive Conclusion as part of the discipline process helps children take responsibility for their actions and learn the valuable skill of confession. It takes humility and courage to admit when you’re wrong. Help your children to take responsibility for their part of a problem by asking the question, “What did you do wrong?”

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