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Dealing with children’s excuses
December 1, 2013, 12:46 pm

Children often find excuses for their mistakes and while your goal is to teach your child to take responsibility instead of blaming others, their goal is probably to get out of being punished. So what can you do when your child comes up with excuses or blames others for their actions; read on to find out.

Catch your child in the excuse: One of the best things you can do is catch your children when they are making the excuse and then let them know that they alone are accountable for their choices and actions.

Focus on the real issue: Find the action that provoked the excuse and then get your child to look at it. Again, avoid being sidetracked. Be clear about what you see and what happened. Don’t let them get away with changing the subject, because in the end it will only hurt your child as they keep blaming everyone and everything for their bad behavior.

Keep it simple: Name the behavior that is the problem, name the choice they made, and then come up with one or two different things your child could do next time. Reinforce the plan and keep it simple.

Be role model: Your role as a parent is to set limits, teach and coach your child.  Part of that is to actively teach what is appropriate and what isn’t through role modeling. You have to model taking responsibility for your wrong behavior, and letting your family know how you will try to handle it better in the future.
Be committed: Commit yourself to the process of challenging faulty thinking in your child and keep at it. Just because you’re able to cut past the excuse to the behavior one time doesn’t mean the behavior is going to stop, or that your child won’t find another way to deflect or change the subject. You have to commit yourself to addressing the behavior, and be vigilant.

Stay calm and focused:  When you talk to your kids, try to stay calm and focused. Yelling and screaming is not going to help. Sit with your child and look at what actually happened. Review the behavior. “You pushed your younger brother. There’s no excuse for abuse. How can you avoid this next time?” Doing a role play where your elder child plays the part of the younger sibling and you take on the role of the senior can be helpful. During this role play, you can practice what the elder child can do next time this happens. That will help them to not only own up to their behavior but also teach them new problem solving skills.

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