Why Kids Tend To Shift The Blame?



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    Why Kids Tend To Shift The Blame?

    As a parent, you probably have had hundreds such interactions with your kids. Why do children (and adults too, for that matter…) always shift the blame? Ever since the child has been aware of his surrounding interrelationships, he has developed a self-defense mechanism that causes him to refrain from monitoring himself • By Beis Moshiach Magazine • Full Article

    By Henny Elishevitz, Beis Moshiach Magazine

    Parent: “Dovid, what did you do to your sister?”

    Child: “Mommy, you don’t know what she did to me!!!”

    Parent: “Baila, you remember that you have to ask permission before taking cookies, right? Why did you take?”

    Child: “But Mommy, it was really Mendy who started eating, Zalmy also took plenty. I hardly touched any of them.”

    As a parent, you probably have had hundreds such interactions with your kids. Why do children (and adults too, for that matter…) always shift the blame?

    Ever since the child has been aware of his surrounding interrelationships, he has developed a self-defense mechanism that causes him to refrain from monitoring himself. He doesn’t want to come out as “the bad boy”, and therefore, a direct question demanding a cheshbon nefesh will usually produce a response that looks for guilty parties. Thus, an education towards a personal accounting is usually not done in a direct manner, rather indirectly. The main age window for education is approximately between the ages of two and ten, when the matter naturally depends upon on the child’s development, e.g., understanding the connection between reason and result, and the ability for realistic communication.

    Teaching to have the courage to admit (to myself and to others) is an educational process that must avoid humiliation as part of the educational path, because a child who isn’t certain of his place in life – wouldn’t dare to endanger himself by admitting to failure.

    A strong immune system means that the child is willing to come to some recognition that he is taking responsibility for his actions, when such responsibility includes the ability for retroactive thinking. What did I do? What led to this result? How did my choice influence the final result? How can I correct my mistake?

    And there’s also ‘forward thinking’ – what will be the result of the action, statement, or choice I may make now, and what happens if I act, say, or choose otherwise? What can this cause and how will this influence me and my surroundings? Would it be correct to do this? Does what I want correlate to what they’re expecting of me?

    The way to instill this within the child is by removing the word ‘guilt’ from our educational lexicon, replacing it with ‘taking responsibility’ through a more optimistic view, faith in our ability to do what must be done, and our perception of the resulting benefits, with Hashem’s help, from overcoming our difficulties at this time specifically as emotional growth. It’s abundantly clear that such education must also include a considerable degree of setting personal examples through our reactions, whether to our failures and mistakes or those of our children.

    It’s most important to believe in the child, expressing this faith in his presence. Of course, this should not be just in a general sense, rather you should spell it out in very detailed and practical terms – “The fact that you succeeded…although it wasn’t easy for you at all and demanded a great deal of willpower and determination, shows me how much emotional strength you have!”

    Be at his side even he fails – convey the message to him that making mistakes is normal and quite human. All of us make mistakes/fail every once in a while, however, what’s really important is that it’s possible to correct and grow. Find together with him how to repair the damage, or in other words – how to do teshuva.

    Beis Moshiach

    EDUCATION AS AN EXAMPLE

    A marvelous example of education that enables and leads to recognition of a mistake, while bestowing the necessary strength to correct it, comes in the following story on the Rebbe Rayatz:

    When he was a boy of about ten years old, over a very lengthy period of time, he accumulated the money he had received for learning Mishnayos by heart, kopek by kopek, until it reached the astonishing figure (to a boy his age) of fifteen rubles. He changed it into a gold coin and proceeded to have fun with a lot of dreams about what to do with it.

    “One day, as I sat in my house and toyed with the gold coin, one of the village merchants, named R’ Koppel, came to ask my father for a loan of twenty-eight rubles, but my father told him that he didn’t have the requested amount. Suddenly, R’ Koppel glanced at my coin and commented, ‘While this coin is only worth fifteen, it can also help me.’

    “I trembled when I heard what he said. I caught sight of half a smile on my father’s lips. His face was lit up by his luminous eyes — and a little battle took place within me.

    “A variety of thoughts crossed my mind. Then, without uttering a word, I hid the gold coin under my plate, and then I went to wash my hands for bread to eat lunch with my father and mother.

    “As R’ Koppel had left the house, my father told me:

    ‘The mitzva of gemilus chassadim – giving a loan to someone without recompense – is even greater than the mitzva of tzedaka, as it can be given both to the poor and the rich. And if you don’t not want to do it? Then, the mitzva is even greater! You can lend the coin for a week and get it back — and thereby you earn a great mitzvah’

    “It was very hard for me to part from the coin, but my father’s words had a great influence on me. Immediately after lunch, I went over to R’ Koppel’s store.”

    Not a word of reproach or diminution for the boy who had quickly hidden his coin – despite the fact that he knew quite well what his father wanted. There was only a strengthening of the action that he could do, when between the lines there reflected a sense of identification with the child’s difficulties. However, there’s also the need to follow a path towards taking things more easily and demonstrating your faith in the child that he is willing and able to do what is correct and proper.

    And so, despite the great difficulty in parting from the coin, he found the strength within him, and again – without even a thought of self-deprecation over how he previously didn’t want to do it, and with some difficulty – he decides to do the right thing.

    A story worth reading and understanding together with your children!

    *

    The magazine can be obtained in stores around Crown Heights. To purchase a subscription, please go to: bmoshiach.org

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