Your child breaks his toy but blames a playmate or sibling. He forgets to bring his homework to school but blames yaya. Would you say these were true?
“All children are bound to develop excuses for their behavior at one time or another. ‘It’s not my fault!’ is a common reaction for kids when they’ve broken the rules,” said psychotherapist Amy Morin, the author of the bestselling book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do, in an article for VeryWell.
The reason for your child's finger pointing and excuses is often simple: she wants to avoid negative consequences like a punishment or mom and dad’s disapproval, psychologist Kate Roberts tells Parents.
This behavior is common, but the idea is not to let her get away with it all the time that it comes a habit. “Otherwise, your child will turn into an adult who refuses to accept personal responsibility for his actions,” says Morin.
Here are a few tips how to nip finger pointing at the bud and show your child how to own up to his actions:
1. Make it easy Try your best not to let anger, frustration or disapproval be your first reaction (it's hard we know but check out these tips here — they will help). Let your child know that she can approach and talk to mom and dad for anything, even for wrongdoings. Knowing so will make your child open up more and be more willing to admit his mistakes.
Let her know that everyone (even mom and dad) makes mistakes, says Tamekia Reece, a writer for Parents. When mistakes do arise, what matters is that the person remains truthful, does something about the mistake to fix it (says sorry to whoever they’ve hurt, for example), and learns from the mistake so as not to repeat it again.
2. Point out the cause and effect “Help your child make the link between what he does and what happens by pointing out real-life examples,” advised Rachel Robertson, director of education and development of a U.S. child-care provider. If your child says mean words to a friend or grabs toys from a classmate, for example, they may not want to play with him anymore. If he follows the teacher’s instructions at school, he’ll go home with a star stamped on his hand.
3. Explain the difference between an explanation and an excuse Sometimes kids — and even adults — have difficulty differentiating an explanation from an excuse, said Morin. “Excuses deny responsibility” and “come from feelings of defensiveness,” said psychotherapist Jenise Harmon in an article for PsychCentral. “Explanations allow for responsibility to be acknowledged and the situation to be explored and understood.”
To illustrate, in a situation when your child forgets to bring her project to school on the day it’s due, a reason like no one reminded her to bring it that morning is an excuse. An explanation: she didn’t place it inside her schoolbag the night before.
4. Create a no-blame household “Families who focus on solutions instead of blame raise children who are more able to take responsibility, because admitting a mistake doesn't mean they're ‘wrong’ or ‘bad,’” says Dr. Laura Markham, a psychologist and parenting expert, in a column on her website Aha! Parenting.
Try it in your household. Instead of “Sino may kasalanan?” being the main objective of conversation, ask “What should we do now to solve this?”
5. Teach problem-solving Rather than blame someone (or something) for a bad circumstance, ask your child what she could have done differently to have avoided the incident.
“It’s important that your child is able to recognize that he has choices in how he responds. If his sister kicks him, he doesn’t have to hit her. Instead, he can ask for help, tell her to stop, or leave the situation,” said Morin. “Teach your child that no matter what goes on around him, he’s ultimately responsible for his own choices,” she added.
In the same light, don’t forget to praise her honesty when your child does own up to her actions and her good behavior when she problem solves on her own.