How to Teach Accountability

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teach accountability


How do you teach a child to be accountable for their own actions and embrace personal responsibility? Starting young is ideal, but even teens who have been coddled for far too long can learn to be held accountable.

1. Lead by example. It has been said that, when it comes to children, “Much more is caught than taught.” We cannot expect our children to rise above our example.

2. Explain what accountability means in terms they understand. Accountability includes far more than simply telling your child what to do, and then coming back later to see if instructions have been carried out. Parents must oversee the performance and make sure the project is completed.

3. Be clear with expectations and consequences. Be sure that you’re not expecting too much from your child. You know them better than anyone. Just because the six-year-old next door is polishing the silver, don’t expect your distractible little guy to do the same. Chore charts are great for little ones. Children need structure and routine to thrive. Knowing what to expect helps kids make the connection between action and result. Are you tired of repeating yourself to your preteens or teens? Sit down and map out which things are non-negotiable. Ask them to create a checklist for each task, be clear about the rules, and what each person can expect if they choose not to follow those rules. Once you have clarified the rules and the consequences, if they choose not to follow the rules, be sure to follow through with the consequences you set. Remember, without clear consequences, there is no real incentive for your child to be accountable.

Like most parents, I dream that my children will grow up to be happy, raising families of their own, and successful in whatever they choose to pursue. And whether it is personal well-being, the joy of family, or success in a career, I know they will learn to embrace accountability and be responsible for their actions, as well as their attitudes. Proverbs 22:6 admonishes us to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Accountability is directly related to the principle of submission. Our attitude toward accountability reflects our attitude toward God. If we are rebellious toward God, how will we be able to be accountable or submit to others?


Welcome to My Happy Homeschool! My name is Susan Reed and my heart’s desire is to encourage the homeschool mom to live out God’s calling and stay the course.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).