22 Ways to Teach Learners to Assume Responsibility for their Mistakes and Shortcomings

Are you looking ways to teach students to assume responsibility for their shortcomings? If so, keep reading.

1. Do not put the student in a situation where the student feels that they must blame others for their mistakes.

2. Assess the appropriateness of the task to ascertain (a) if the task is too easy, (b) if the task is too complicated, and (c) if the duration of time scheduled to finish the task is sufficient.

3. Refrain from arguing with the student about whether they are making excuses; simply explain that they are not being entirely honest about a situation.

4. Make sure that consequences delivered for unacceptable behavior are not extreme and are causally related to the unacceptable behavior(e.g., things that are destroyed must be replaced, work not done during work time has to be made up during leisure time, etc.).

5. Refrain from arguing with the student about whether they are telling the truth. If you do not have proof, it is better to avoid blaming someone who might be innocent.

6. Always determine the accuracy of the student’s claim that someone or something caused them to have a problem or to fail. In some cases, someone or something may legitimately be causing the student to experience problems or failure.

7. Make sure the student knows that not being honest when confronted will result in more negative consequences than telling the truth. Be very consistent in this approach.

8. Show the student that they should be happy with their personal best effort rather than perfection.

9. Attempt to have an open, honest relationship with the student. Urge the student to tell the truth, and do not use threats to make them tell the truth (e.g., “You had better tell the truth or else!”).

10. Praise those students in the classroom who accept responsibility for their own behavior.

11. Connect with parents (e.g., notes home, phone calls, etc.) to disseminate information about the student’s progress. The parents may reinforce the student at home for accepting the responsibility for their behavior at school.

12. Draft an agreement with the student stipulating what behavior is required (e.g., accepting responsibility for their own mistakes) and which reinforcement will be implemented when the agreement has been met.

13. Praise the student for accepting responsibility for their own behavior based on the duration of time the student can be successful. As the student shows success, slowly increase the duration of time required for reinforcement.

14. Create classroom rules: • Complete every assignment. • Complete assignments quietly. • Remain in your seat. • Finish tasks. • Meet task expectations. Examine rules often. Praise students for following the rules.

15. Talk with the student to explain(a) what the student is doing wrong (e.g., failing to take responsibility for their behavior, blaming other persons or learning materials, etc.) and (b) what the student should be doing (e.g., accepting responsibility for their own behavior, accepting outcomes, etc.).

16. Praise the student for accepting responsibility for their own behavior: (a) give the student a concrete reward (e.g., privileges such as leading the line, handing out learning materials, 10 minutes of free time, etc.) or (b) give the student an informal reward (e.g., praise, handshake, smile, etc.).

17. Take the student away from the learning experience until the student can accept responsibility for their behavior.

18. Consider using a classroom management app. Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

19. Consider using an adaptive behavior management app. Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

20. Consider using Alexa to help the student learn to behave appropriately. Click here to read an article that we wrote on the subject.

21. Click here to learn about six bonus strategies for challenging problem behaviors and mastering classroom management.

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