By Zaid Mohamad
When something goes wrong in the family, the first question asked by most parents would be, “Who did this?” It is often followed by a series of harsh words and irrational behaviour.
When things don’t go their way, many parents go on the “blame” mode and start looking for the offenders. Once identified, they move on to the “scolding” phase.
However, from the “offender’s” point of view, there’s no lesson to be learnt.
When parents get angry, children become scared. They end up learning to cover their mistakes for fear of being punished. They may even lie to cover their tracks. What’s worse, they may even blame others just to get out of trouble.
Clearly, this is a lose-lose scenario for both parents and children. Fortunately, we can reverse the situation by creating an accountability culture at home.
James Lehman, creator of The Total Transformation Child Behaviour programme, calls this a “culture of accountability”.
It essentially means this: each person in the family is responsible for their own action and behaviour. Each person is responsible for following the rules and expectations set by the parents. Each person is responsible for how they respond to stressful or frustrating situations.
However, many people don’t want to be held accountable for their action, children included. This is especially true if they perceive that they had not be treated fairly. This is when blaming others seems a more viable option.
Responsibility and Accountability
There are many ways to instil this accountability culture at home.
But first, parents must reflect on their own behaviour when under pressure. Are we too quick to judge others? Do we easily lose our temper at the smallest thing? Are we careless with our words in our moments of rage? All these and more will likely create a “fear culture”.
Secondly, the whole family must understand the concept (and process) of accountability and responsibility.
Imagine we’re at work and our job is to ensure that no defective products are delivered to the customers. However, due to our carelessness, a customer returns a broken product.
Yes, we could come up with many reasons why it happened, but it’s unlikely that the customer would be interested or even care.
If it happens too many times, we may even lose our job. What we should do instead is take full responsibility. Apologise to the customer and improve the checking process. Done right, the incident could even lead to increasing the customer’s loyalty.
The same spirit can be introduced at home. When a child makes a mistake, encourage him/her to take responsibility and be accountable for it. Avoid the urge to blame or scold, especially if the mistakes are unintentional.
Our children will end up respecting and listening to us more than before. Such is the power of accountability. A harmonious home can then be created from where our children will grow into responsible adults.