RAISING ACCOUNTABLE CHILDREN

It is incumbent on both teachers and parents to set reasonable limits for the behavior and the actions of youngsters. Once these limits are set, adults must be consistent in insisting that the youngster abide by these limits. When, however, the youngster exceeds the limitations, he/she should be made to be responsible for the consequences of those actions. When parents and teachers attempt to "get the kids out of the jams" they make for themselves, we do the children a terrible disservice.

What are some of these "jams"? When a student does not do homework assignments on time, when supplies are not brought to class, when a student does not study for an exam - these are distressing occurrences to both teachers and parents. We know that we have repeatedly advised, cajoled and even threatened our children to maintain their responsibilities. Yet, some youngsters test our patience and sometimes even our sanity. What should we do - and what should we not do?

Teachers should hold the youngsters accountable for their actions (or in this case - non-action.) The only way for a youngster to learn not to repeat undesirable behavior is to learn in no uncertain terms that this behavior is unacceptable. Parents must do the same - no matter how painful it might seem. Letters to teachers asking for absolution (except in special circumstances) do not further the aim of teaching of responsibility.

When parents feel that they must "save" their children, they are in essence, doing just the opposite. Responsible adults realize that we must sometimes do certain things and insist on certain types of behavior even though doing so makes us feel sad and sorry for our children. Yet, in order to help children grow into responsible adults, we must do our jobs - even when it hurts.

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