The benefits of making children feel responsible for their actions

The process of educating a child involves making this one reflect about his acts. The purpose of all punishment, talk, or reprimand is to make the child is able to reason why he has done wrong and thus achieve a change, better, in the attitude of the smallest of the house.

One of the ways through which this goal can be achieved is to make the child aware of his responsibility in each act. That is able to feel the guilt that has led to his bad behavior so that in this way he is aware that there is something that should change. This is the proposal of Tina Malti, a psychologist who is part of the University of Toronto.


Work at an emotional level

How can the culpability get the little ones to change their minds? Malti explains that like empathy, this feeling can be a healthy emotion. Children learn by relating this feeling to situations in which they have broken important rules or have missed their obligations. In this way, the child will be able to understand the seriousness of the situation.

A conclusion that he has reached after six years that he investigated in which he investigated the influence of sympathy, guilt and moral reasoning help children to learn concepts of cooperation and other pro-social behaviors. For this, they collected data on 175 children and their families and teachers, finding that responsibility plays an important role in helping the youngest children to develop correct behaviors.


Malti emphasizes that it is in the section that covers all three seven years when the cognitive development of a child allows them to understand that another person is dissatisfied by behavior that is not acceptable at the social level, or within the home.

Getting the little ones to recognize the guilt after a evil deed, will lead to better emotional control in the future. In this way, the next time they face a similar situation they will remember the consequences of the last time, avoiding that a social norm is again transgressed.

The importance of empathy

One of the ways in which this feeling of guilt It is through empathy. This social ability allows people to know what others feel, a way of understanding the consequences of acts that have been a transgression of social norms.


From the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu They explain that empathy does not mean thinking the same way or agreeing with the other person. This ability allows people to understand the emotional state of the other, allowing the child to be able to put himself in his place, even if the point of view is not shared.

At the same time, thanks to empathy, the little ones will be able to understand when another person feels happy for a positive behavior performed by them. Thanks to this, they will want to repeat their attitude in order to generate these emotions again and allow both the other person and themselves to experience these emotions.

Damián Montero

Video: Honest liars -- the psychology of self-deception: Cortney Warren at TEDxUNLV


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