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Character matters more than personality

2 November
Posted by:
Michael Grose

“It’s not my fault. He made me do it!”

Ever had a child say this to you when they’ve done the wrong thing?

The default mechanism for many kids is to deflect responsibility away from themselves. ‘I’m not blame’ becomes a mantra………………………….that stays for life!

Adults do it as well. Things go wrong and we often look for something or someone else to blame.
We become short-tempered with your kids, and we put it down to the stress of parenting, or blame the hard day at work. That excuses us ………well not entirely.

We may get a ticket for speeding and we automatically blame the other cars around you for going at that same speed. So it becomes the fault of ‘others’, not us.

There are many ways we deflect responsibility away from our behaviour. And it’s not smart!

One of the most powerful notions to get across to kids is that they have a choice about how they think, act and behave! Situations maybe difficult but they are rarely victim of circumstance.

Making choices is about taking responsibility. It is the mature thing to do. They don’t have to be adults to show this maturity.

Blame or deflection negates choice. Challenge kids when they say ‘I had no choice’. There’s always a choice. It’s just that some choices are harder to make than others.

Here are some choices that face many kids:
  • They can choose whether to put on their happy face or their grumpy face each morning.
  • They can choose to fight with a sibling or they can walk away and go to their bedroom.
  • They can choose to do their homework or watch television.
  • They can choose to drink alcohol when their friends do or they can say no to drinking.
Some of these choices are hard, no doubt. But they are choices, nonetheless.

Character is developed when kids make hard choices. Resilience is encouraged when kids exercise choice as they show they are in charge of their behaviour. Confidence is boosted as difficult choices take them into new ground and make them feel uncomfortable, but they grow through these choices.

Don’t let your kids deflect responsibility or blame others. Remind them constantly that they have a choice about how they respond to others or their circumstances. The exercise of choice is long term strategy, but it’s a big one.

You can start by making sure you take responsibility for your behaviours. Start today……….even if you feel crappy. There are no excuses. That’s what taking responsibility is about!
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