One man remembers doing something wrong when he was young, and having his parents feel bad and embarrassed about it. They were essentially taking responsibility for his actions. They felt that their son’s wrongdoing reflected on them.
Do you see how this response displaces the guilt?
It becomes all about how the parents look instead of about what the child is learning. This type of negative reinforcement encourages the child to hide his future wrongdoings, so as to not bring shame on his parents.
Conversely, a child of a different temperament might respond differently
In this same situation, she might act out and misbehave in an active attempt to bring shame to her parents. She might also develop a pattern of placing the blame for her own actions onto others: “It’s the teacher’s fault I failed.” “My friends made me do it.”
Instead, put the responsibility back on the child
“Wow, yes, that is messed up! How are you going to fix that?”
And then listen to their response with real curiosity, because it is ultimately up to them to try to make things right. No one else can fix it for them.
When you feel responsible for your kids’ actions, something is wrong.
Granted, we are responsible to teach and model right behavior for them. But when they mess up, it’s up to them to take responsibility for their actions, not us. Yes, someone might think we are bad parents. But it’s better for the long-term development of the child.
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