Teaching Children to Take Responsibility for Their Actions
One of the hardest things I try to explain to my kids is: ”We have all the right to feel whatever we feel inside and no one has the right to argue about it. Yet, when it comes to our actions, our freedom is limited by certain boundaries.“
This, I believe, is a universal rule of life that should be taught to our kids from a very young age. It is the basis of all legislation and laws whether they are civil or religious ones. If we reflect on all sorts of laws set by any institution along with all sorts of consequences to breaking these laws, we’ll find out that: Punishment can’t be applied unless you do break the law through an actual act of yours. There is no law that traces feelings and perceives them as crimes, only actions! Even God doesn’t pass any sort of punishment on the different sorts of feelings we have inside. He only punishes us for our wrong choices of actions we take and actually do. It is very important to note here: that words are actions, not feelings as a few of us may think. You get a sort of feeling inside you then you act towards it by uttering your words.
How about we reflect on our actions and their logical consequences?
If we closely examine most, if not all, laws set by various religions, we will find that all of them prohibit:
1. Subjecting any person to any sort of harm/danger (including yourself)
2. Subjecting any property/environment to anything that can harm or destroy it (including your own property or environment).
Let’s take lying as an example since it is common for it to be forbidden in all religions. Lying is a clear example of what was previously mentioned as in “words are also actions”.
What does lying do? Why can it be destructive?
If we examine stories in history, we will find that depending on the sort of lie: Lying resulted in causing wars and murdering people. In our everyday life, lying also hurts the liar himself and destroys his social relationships with others due to the loss of trust.
What about the civil laws?
Same goes with the civil law although lying is given other names such as false report or slander.
Another example: Driving and Drinking:
Now, did you ever ask yourself why is there a law that prohibits drinking and driving?
Actually, this act falls under the 2 categories mentioned above. If you are drunk while you are driving your car, you may put yourself , others, or anything on the road in danger because your mind isn’t quite focused.
Human beings love to be free to do whatever they want. Yet, their freedom is to be bound by limits. The basic limits are clear and set for us as by civil laws and religion, then each and every house add to that their own limits according to their beliefs or culture/environment.
To wrap it up:
For me, it makes sense that we apply the same rule in parenting our children to be able to live responsibly in this world. It is not fair that we tell our kids things like: “This shouldn’t make you upset” or “You can’t feel bored when you have all these toys.” They need to learn that they have all the freedom to have all the feelings they get, yet they are expected to be held accountable for whatever action they choose to take. The right choice of action should not: 1. Subject any person to any sort of harm/danger (including themselves) or 2. Subject any property/environment to anything that can harm or destroy it (including their own property or environment).
This reminds me of another universal rule that comes along naturally with this one. In any conflict between two persons, someone has to say: ”I did this because he started it” or ”… because he did that” In reply to this let’s make sure we admit: “He is responsible for his own action, and I am responsible for my own reaction.” It is about time that we take responsibility for our own actions and quit blaming others for our own mistakes or wrong choices of behaviour.
I believe this should be taught to our young kids before they reach their teenage years because we reap the seeds that what we plant inside those little, yet very smart and absorbent, heads.
Noha is a certified Health Coach by Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and a passionate mother of two. Through her blog, she hopes to empower families and parents to lead a healthy, happy and well balanced life inside out.