Does Your Child Say This? “It’s Your Fault!”

By James Lehman, MSW

It’s no mystery: children who say “It’s your fault” to their parents when confronted with a task they haven’t completed are trying to avoid taking responsibility for something.

Here’s the important thing to remember: don’t talk “fault”—talk “responsibility.” Often kids will try to lay blame when a responsibility has not been met. So respond with, “It’s not my fault, it’s your responsibility.” The reason why finding fault is not effective is because looking at the past will not solve your problems. But reminding your child whose responsibility it is keeps the issue right here in the present. And that’s where you want it to be, because the present is where problem-solving starts.

You: Why isn’t your homework done?

Your child: “It’s your fault I didn’t get my homework done because we went to the movies.”

Translation: “I’m not going to take responsibility for not getting my homework done—I’m going to make it your fault.”

Ineffective: “You’re right, I’ll write you a note, don’t worry about it.”

Effective: “Wait a minute. It’s your responsibility to tell me that you had homework to get done. Next time, tell me what you have to do before we go to the movies.”

About James Lehman, MSW

James Lehman, who dedicated his life to behaviorally troubled youth, created The Total Transformation® Program, The Complete Guide to Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™, from a place of professional and personal experience. Having had severe behavioral problems himself as a child, he was inspired to focus on behavioral management professionally. Together with his wife, Janet Lehman, he developed an approach to managing children and teens that challenges them to solve their own problems without hiding behind disrespectful, obnoxious or abusive behavior. Empowering Parents now brings this insightful and impactful program directly to homes around the globe.

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