The easiest way to teach accountability

A subject that often comes up when I speak with parents and professionals, is about how we teach accountability and taking responsibility with children and young people.

Accountability refers to the ability to:

  • Acknowledge our behaviours and actions
  • Being honest about our role in events or situations
  • Take responsibility for our responses whether positive or negative
  • Acknowledge and put right the errors that we make

So, how do we best teach accountability?

Accountability is correlated to both positive and negative behaviours and actions. Many young people have lower self-esteem than we would like, and as self-esteem is a protective factor to mental health and well-being, we want to consider how to build this as well as considering behaviours which are undesirable.

Interestingly, a frequent conversation I have with children and young people is that they feel frustrated that they are expected to take responsibility when adults do not do this in return. ‘Why do I have to say sorry for my behaviour, but my parent can shout at me and not say sorry?’ or ‘why do I have to take responsibility for not doing my homework, but my teacher does not follow through with what they were meant to do?

Therefore, we need to consider three things:

The first, is to role model and support young people to keep their promises

The second, is to role model acknowledging our own errors, taking responsibility for them and correcting them

The third, to role model acknowledging our own wins, taking pride in them and celebrating them

When you make a promise,

  • Do you think through your promise before you say it?
  • Do you ensure that you are able to fulfil the promise in both time and action?
  • Do you record the action to ensure that you remember?
  • Do you follow through?
  • Promises are an important aspect in both trusting others, as well as having self-esteem and respect for ourselves. Role modelling them to children and young people, provides an important lesson in accountability and follow through

When you make an error,

  • Do you recognise it?
  • Do you acknowledge it verbally to yourself and the people it affects?
  • Do you take responsibility and apologise for it?
  • Do you reflect on what you did wrong and the impact it had on others?
  • Do you then correct it, or put in place actions to rectify it?
  • Making mistakes is natural, and demonstrating that we can manage them constructively teaches children the same skille. Therefore, we want to ensure that we take responsibility for them, not blaming others or projecting them to those around us, and instead owning them and reflecting on what we need to change and how to take responsibility for them

When you win,

  • Do you give yourself the grace of recognising your wins?
  • Do you validate your wins?
  • Do you acknowledge and share your wins with those who matter to you?
  • Do you celebrate the wins that matter most to you?
  • Do you recognise the efforts that went into your wins?
  • Do you celebrate the wins of others?
  • Do you consider what you could learn from the wins of others?
  • Being able to recognise, validate and celebrate your own wins is fundamental to your own well-being and self-esteem, and being able to recognise and celebrate the wins of those around us teaches us compassion, sportsmanship and reflection skills.

Want to learn more? 

Would you like to deliver emotional literacy interventions in your work? Our Level 3 Emotional Literacy Mentor qualification takes you through the theory and practice to deliver emotional literacy support for children aged 3-12 years. You can start today by joining (click here)

Are you looking for a deeper understanding of child mental health? Our Level 4 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Coaching Diploma takes you into an in depth dive of child mental health and how you can support.  You can join our Level 4 training (here).

© Dandelion Training and Development – All Rights Reserved

Further help 

For more articles about mental health visit – ARTICLES 

To learn more about child and adolescent mental health visit – COURSES 

For resources to support child and adolescent mental health visit –RESOURCES 

Scroll to Top