The truth is, most kids make excuses for their behavior. This is normal, and something that a lot of adults do as well. Maybe your child always has a reason why he did (or didn’t do) something. But remember, if your child doesn’t feel as if anything is his fault and blames everyone else, then he doesn’t ever have to take on the responsibility of changing his behavior.
For parents, constant excuses can be downright infuriating. We have here a 3-step process that shows how you can handle this behavior:
1. Name it. In order to best handle this behavior, it’s going to be most effective if you directly state what it is that your child is doing. Let me give an example of how this might be used. Say your son starts playing video games every day after school instead of doing homework. You set up a homework structure with him where he can earn video game time after his homework is complete. He still keeps playing video games with his friends instead of doing his homework, saying something like, “Well, I always play with Tommy, and he can’t play later, and if I wait until I’m done with my homework, I’m not going to have anyone to play with.” Instead of lecturing him for the 100th time about the importance of doing well in school, try saying: “It sounds like you’re blaming Tommy for you choosing not to follow the rule around homework.”
2. Restate the rule or the expectation. Again, you’re going to be most effective if you do not give your child a lecture; rather, simply state what your house rule is around the behavior you are seeing. Using the above example, you might say, “The rule is, you get to play video games after your homework is done.”
3. Problem solve with your child about next time. When everyone is calm, we recommend having a problem-solving conversation with your child about what he or she will do differently to follow the rule next time. Remember, it’s more effective to focus on how your child is going to take responsibility rather than argue about whose fault it is, or isn’t. The parent in this example might say “Blaming others isn’t going to fix this for you. What are you going to do differently tomorrow to make sure you are following the rules around video games and homework?”
Keep in mind, making excuses just means that your child is human, not that he’s a bad kid or that she’s never going to be able to be responsible. Using these tips can help develop that sense of accountability for his or her actions.