Accountability Explanation #6
Before expecting my child to care about making good choices beyond this current moment--like for tomorrow or next week or for the rest of their life--I look for key signs that their prefrontal cortex is coming online AND is capable of sustaining thoughtful brain balance for longer than a few minutes.
Here are some cues to watch out for before expecting TRUE accountability:
🔹️Does my child regularly display planned out, intentional actions compared to impulsive, reactive decision-making?
🔹️Is my child gaining a sense of time beyond today? Or do they still ask when next week will come 100x a day? 😂
🔹️Is my child asking questions to REALLY understand reality? Basically, are my child's questions intended to settle urgent impulses or to seek true understanding of how the world works? That's a subtle, but very important difference.
🔹️Is reality sinking in when I answer my child's questions? Does my child naturally pause and think about my answers and then show evidence of applying new understanding or do my answers go right over their head?
🔹️When considering challenges, does my child feel empowered or defensive/intimidated/oblivious in being a part of the solution?
In the variety of personalities we have around our house, I’ve found that the brain starts making noticeable progress in this momentary to true accountability transition around age 4 or 5, but isn’t able to maintain much consistency until closer to ages 7 or 8. So we wait until 8.
Essentially, if ALL of these signs aren’t consistent, I don't even think about having disciplinary conversations that attempt to manage my child’s “forever” behavior. Yes, we talk through various tough moments when the heat is over and we role play positive behavior with our little ones in prep for true accountability. But we don't set up disciplinary systems that expect compliance--or else--to push them towards true accountability before they are truly ready. Until they have a solid PFC on their shoulders, we simply deal with each chaotic situation one moment one at a time using the attachment and following mindsets and that’s it. 🤷♀️💖