It's all your fault

Jun 08, 2021

My mother’s favourite expression is ‘A mother’s place is in the wrong’.

It makes me smile and it is so easy to slip into guilt around motherhood and be tempted to fix things when they’ve gone wrong.

It has certainly felt like that for me.

I remember my daughter Scarlett left her favourite doll's china tea set right in the middle of the playroom floor and went off in search of something else to do.

A rule in our house was that if you’ve finished playing with something, it has to be put away before you play with something else. I’m not saying I always succeeded with this one but it was a clear rule.

Shortly after she wandered off, her brothers chased each other across the playroom and trod on the plates and cups.

She was devastated and said  ‘It wasn’t my fault, mummy. Now my tea set is broken and you need to get me a new one’

Woah – doesn’t that press some buttons as a parent? Not only will she not see that it WAS her fault but she wants a new one.

Don't we want kids to take responsibility and NOT blame us when they’ve made a mistake?

Other examples might be when they have lost something, hurt themselves or someone else or not done something they said they’d do.

They will come back with:

‘You made me’

‘I didn’t mean to’

‘I didn’t hurt him’

‘It didn't do that’

So how do we help them to realise they did play a part in this and accept responsibility? 

Here are 4 don’ts:

  • Don’t jump in with your own anger – remember this is a child we are dealing with and we need to help them to learn
  • Don’t say ‘I told you so’ – this will make them resentful and it will take longer to get them to listen to us
  • Don’t demand an apology straight away
  • Don’t issue a punishment or a threat

 Here are 4 good ways to respond:

  • Assume your child is regretful so be empathetic and validate their feelings
  • Take time over it – don’t rush for an immediate apology or solution
  • Explain human nature ‘When you make a mistake, it is normal to try to blame someone else to take the pain or frustration away’
  • Help a child to make amends – that might be to do some repairs, write a sorry note or do something helpful or kind. This will help them to accept responsibility for their mistake

What did I do with Scarlett? I zipped my lip with the temptation to tell her 'I told you so"  and I said how sorry I was that the tea set was broken as I knew how much she loved it.

I got her to sweep up the broken pieces and throw them away.

Later at bedtime I gently asked her whose fault it was and, as time had elapsed, she was able to say it was hers.

A few days later we took some of her birthday money and bought her a new one. If you like this idea and your child doesn’t have any birthday money, you can get them to do some extra ‘jobs’ and earn some money for it.

If you are looking for more useful parenting tips, take a look at my Positive Discipline video course which gives you a framework for discipline which is both gentle and firm.  In 5 value-packed video lessons, you will learn how to stay positive AND get your child to do what you ask without a battle.


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