This Fun, Easy Game Helps Kids Learn to Accept Responsibility

Today I’m featuring an article by Dr. Henry Cloud that’ll help your kids learn to accept responsibility—using a funny, easy game that just might become an ongoing joke in your family. 

accept responsibility

Dr. Cloud writes this about helping kids learn to accept responsibility:

“My daughters and I recall with laughter the game that we began years ago to combat blaming and excusing in our house. It began with a dad (me) who was about ready to catch his hair on fire if he heard one more “But she …” as an excuse by one of them when corrected.

If I would say, “Don’t do that to your sister,” I could pretty much depend on immediately hearing, “But Daddy, she kicked me,” or “She called me ____.” It was driving me crazy, partly because I hate blame and excuses, but more so because as a psychologist, I know that not accepting responsibility is the quickest way to a miserable and unproductive life. (Emphasis Jeannie’s.) I was determined to stamp it out.

So, I did three things to help kids learn to accept responsibility. First, the game.

We initiated a sign that would let anyone immediately know that someone was sensing an excuse or an attempt to blame someone else. We used the “W” above the forehead, made with three fingers for “winner,” and the big “L” with the thumb and forefinger for “loser.”

This was a follow-up to my fatherly lecture to them about the difference in winners and losers and how winners admit it when they are wrong and change their behavior, and losers blame others or use excuses.

It was amazing how effective and amusing this ‘accept responsibility’ game became.

As soon as anyone, including myself, would in any way blame anything or anyone, immediately the hands would go up and we would know that we were caught. I knew that this had really worked as I noticed my youngest daughter, Lucy, begin to develop a sly “I just got caught” smile on her face if she would begin an attempt to blame and we would raise the “L.” It got to be a lot of fun at the end.

But all of this was more than a game of sign language.

For me, it was about the life and death of their futures.

One of the problems of being a psychologist is that every time your child doesn’t eat their vegetables or fails to do a chore, you project a lifetime of irresponsibility into their future and see prison sentences, failed careers, and a dozen marriages. I was determined to get this one right.”

You can read Dr. Cloud’s entire “How to Teach Your Teen to Take Responsibility” article that inspired this article here.

Who is Dr. Henry Cloud?

Dr. Cloud is an acclaimed leadership expert, clinical psychologist, and New York Times bestselling author of 45 books, including the iconic book Boundaries. His book Integrity was dubbed “the best book in the bunch” by the New York Times. In 2011, Necessary Endings was called “the most important book you’ll read all year.” Learn more about Dr. Cloud at DrCloud.com.

Once kids learn to accept responsibility, they become even greater candidates for debt-free college and career.

For clear, step-by-step help with the whole process, get your copy of my book:

It’s a reference book, so nobody reads the whole thing cover to cover. Pick out what you need to read in it using the fast-paced, 10-minute video instructions here.

You can see hundreds of reviews of this book on Amazon by going to:

bit.ly/burlowski

You can see why financial advising professionals love LAUNCHhere.

You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCHhere.

Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.

And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.

Take a step on this right now. Get regular, inspiring help from me—every Monday morning.

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Do you have very specific questions for me about debt-free college and career for your kids?

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Who is Jeannie Burlowski?

Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26, their parents, and the professionals who serve them. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free, ready to jump directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazine, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.

Jeannie also helps students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school at her website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow her on Twitter @JBurlowski.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Hi, I'm Jeannie Burlowski

I'm a full-time academic strategist, speaker, and podcast host, and I’m the author of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward.

My writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love.

My work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington PostUSA TodayNerdWallet, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.

I also help students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school from my website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow me on Twitter @JBurlowski.

My team and I are leading a debt-free college revolution. We hope you’ll join us.

Hi, I'm Jeannie Burlowski.

I'm a full-time academic strategist, speaker, and podcast host, and I’m the author of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward.

My writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love.

My work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington PostUSA TodayNerdWallet, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.

I also help students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school from my website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow me on Twitter @JBurlowski.

My team and I are leading a debt-free college revolution. We hope you’ll join us.

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