Teaching Children to Avoid Blame Shifting
It is becoming more and more apparent that no one is to blame for everything that happens. So, if this is the case, how do we get ourselves in such turmoil if no one is responsible? Although this seems ridiculous, the use of “blame-shifting” has become the go-to way of justifying mistakes. When we have arguments or conflict with others, one of the major contributing factors that play into the inability for solutions to be reached easily is a lack of ownership of behavior. Children must be taught how to accept responsibility for their actions and feelings in any situation to lead a more productive life.
Children are naturally going to test boundaries. Seeing how far they can push the limits of rules is nothing new. And when they make mistakes, their first reaction is to blame. They could blame someone else or even an external circumstance. By doing this, they feel they are preserving their pride and avoiding disapproval and consequences. Since children want to please their parents, those with parents that are more impatient and critical are more likely to shift blame. The problem with this lack of ownership is children become more passive and lose their sense of humility. This ultimately leads to more conflict and more difficulty finding resolutions.
To help children learn this critical life skill, parents need to be patient and empathetic when addressing undesirable behaviors. Parents also have to lead by example. If children see us blame others for our own circumstances they then start to believe this is proper behavior. This will create an environment where children feel safe to be honest. During these discussions, especially when there is a conflict between children, it is essential to help them stay focused only on their behavior during the dispute. Whether it was the action that initiated the incident or the reaction to the situation, taking ownership of their part is vital. This keeps them focused and prevents them from shifting blame. When children have successfully owned their behavior, make sure to show them an appreciation for their honesty, and open a dialogue for what could have been done differently.
Children have to be taught and they will be whether it is by design or by imitation. I have 2 children and they were definitely very different from each other. What worked as a parenting tool for one did not work for the other. Ultimately, what did work in common was teaching them responsibility for their actions. As an example, I refused to remove or relocate fragile items in our homes. One learned quickly that there were immediate consequences for touching something they were explained they should not and grew to learn simply not to touch. The other was a little more stubborn. Since I could not teach them not to touch they had to be taught the consequences of touching something they shouldn’t if something went wrong. They were also taught to respect other’s belonging’s and to ask to touch or to replace it if they did touch. Two very different circumstances, but both learned much the same lessons in life. They also managed to occasionally remind us of the same lessons if they found us trying to “break the rules”, lol.
Life skills are an important part of a child’s development in the SKILLZ program. By utilizing the Life SKILLZ supplemental curriculum in class, instructors, can help set up children for success in patience, respect, kindness, responsibility, self-control, and many others. Parents can implement the Parent SKILLZ information to help them be more patient when addressing poor choices by their children and prompt them for more appropriate decisions. By providing children with environments that instill consistency in rules and consequences, children’s character becomes more refined, and they become more resilient.
As John Wooden stated, “You aren’t a failure until you start to blame.” Taking responsibility for our behaviors is hard, especially for children. However, to help children master their responses to the world around them, they must learn to take ownership of their part. This fosters control over their own lives and helps develop essential life skills. When children are given the tools to learn from setbacks and mistakes, they form a growth mindset and become more resilient and empathetic human beings.