Parents – Get rid of excuses!
Excuses – we hear them more and more frequently. We hear them from parents explaining why they can’t do something, and we hear them from parents about their kids:
He was sick during tryouts, that’s why he didn’t make the team.
She was tired, that’s why her grades have slipped.
He was busy, too busy to brush his teeth – that’s why they’re all yellow and he’s got cavities.
She was hungry- that’s why she yelled at me and slammed the door.
When parents start using excuses, kids learn what they live and the next thing you know, the kids are using them too. That’s when we hear the “YeahButs.”
You didn’t finish your chores. Yeah, but I had to study for a test.
Your dishes are still on the table. Yeah, but Mike texted me and I had to reply.
You hit your sister. Yeah, but she wouldn’t stop humming in my ear and it was really bugging me.
Excuses mean that no one needs to be accountable. They let us off the hook and put the blame somewhere else. They enable us to avoid the work that needs to be done to change the behaviour. If we make it about something else, we don’t have to face our faults and we don’t have to find the courage to change.
Yeah, but how do we change?
Well, we start to own our own behaviours and we call our kids on their behaviours and excuses. We help our kids to be aware and to own their behaviours:
You didn’t finish your chores. Yeah, but I had to study for a test. That’s an excuse. So, how will you study for your test and get your chores done? Do you need my help to plan it or can you organize yourself to fulfill both responsibilities?
Your dishes are still on the table. Yeah, but Mike texted me and I had to reply. That’s an excuse. You chose not to move your dishes. How can you take responsibility for your dishes so that you don’t choose to lose your phone as it is too much of a distraction.
If we don’t allow our children to own their behaviour, they’ll never know how capable they are to change it.
So what about parents? How do we get rid of excuses?
Let’s start with “I’m busy.” That excuse frees you from any accountability for your life. It also teaches your kids to use the same excuse. In reality, when we look at a calendar and plot out the time we have, (and teach our kids to do the same) we take responsibility for how we are spending our time. We choose to get things done or to decline.
It all starts with awareness. Start looking for excuses and you’ll see them everywhere. Owning our mistakes is the only way to begin to get comfortable with the fact that we make them. Making them is how we learn.