In a recent posting I wrote of the importance of preparing children for hardship. A reader responded with a great comment about teaching children to accept the consequences of their actions and words. She said, “I’m astounded at the number of parents that try to “fix” their children’s problems for them instead of letting them deal with the consequences.”
Amen! It is so tempting to intervene when our children mess up, trying to shield them from the painful consequences of their own mistakes, foolishness, or disobedience! We hate to see our children suffer, and we are certain they didn’t mean any harm by what they did.
The reader went on to suggest using this kind of situation as a teaching moment, and I couldn’t agree more. Our world is full of adult-aged “children” who don’t seem to realize that they have a responsibility to respect and protect others’ property, reputation, and feelings. The only effective way for children to learn this is to be taught the process of recognizing and admitting what they did—even if they didn’t intend for it to turn out the way it did—and make amends, either by words alone, or by replacing what was damaged or destroyed. While this is definitely no fun, it will ingrain the event on the heart of the child, perhaps making a similar offense less likely in the future, but certainly giving our child the tools he will need to handle, responsibly and maturely, difficult situations later on.
Parents, don’t make excuses for your child’s misbehavior. Teach them how to be gracious, how to put the needs and feelings of others ahead of their own, and not to be defensive when they hurt or offend others. Imagine a world in which there were more considerate people! The best way to get there is to train our children how to be that kind of person. They won’t learn it any other way!