Most educators go into the profession to watch their students grow academically and socially mature. Educators want their students to internalize and take responsibility for their behavior because we know success in the real world is about owning our mistakes and improving our conduct.
How is this done in a world where we now understand the impact of trauma, attachment, and the unfairness of life?
We all know we didn’t get to where we are by making excuses for our poor behavior or having adults pat us on the back for a job well done when we didn’t do anything. Most of us had adults who believed in us, held us accountable for poor behavior, and supported and encouraged us as we tried again. This type of relationship is even more critical for children who have suffered from trauma, attachment, or entitlement.
For children to develop strong moral character and overcome their past hurts and pains, they must experience the consequences of their mistakes (or poor coping skills) with supportive people around them.
With adults learning more about the impact of trauma and attachment, we see an increase in encouragement and support of students; however, a decrease in accountability. This understanding has created confusion about what accountability is and its role in emotional healing and maturity.
For children to develop and utilize healthy coping skills and access resources and strategies, they need consistent discipline for poor coping skills and behavior.
For this Healing Children Tidbits, let’s talk about what accountability is not.
ACCOUNTABILITY IS NOT:
- Lecturing and telling a student not to do the action again.
- Warnings and providing multiple chances
- Giving treats or rewards because they calmed down, sharing personal stories and hoping the child will change their behavior–save personal stories for relationship building and when students are curious about your life.
- Counseling and Relationship Building. Counseling and relationships are essential for many of our students as they have deep hurts and pains, triggers and toxic thinking related to their history, and poor coping skills. Counseling and relationship building must happen during non-disciplinary times and after consequences for misbehavior. We do not want to accidentally reinforce poor behavior by giving 1:1 attention when a child misbehaves or uses poor coping skills.
- Sensory Rooms. Many of our students have sensory needs. Teams can work on developing a schedule for the child to meet those needs. We want to be careful about using sensory rooms when children misbehave, as it can accidentally reinforce poor behavior.
To learn more about what accountability is, you can watch our podcast, What is Accountability?; take our online course “Healing Discipline: Finding Joy in Working with Challenging Students” (go to https://healingchildren.teachable.com/courses to see all available online courses) or purchase our book “Healing Discipline: Bringing Hope to Shattered Lives, A Guide for Educators.”