Success is built by responsibility, not excuses

Whether we like it or not, our kids will only be successful when we put them in charge of their own lives.

They need to run their own show in and out of the classroom. As much as we help them, nurture and take care of them – at the end of the day their success is their own responsibility.

It’s only when our kids understand that they (and no one else) are responsible for their own actions, will success even have a chance.

When we allow our kids to make excuses and give explanations, it doesn’t help them learn to manage their life. Allowing our kids to make excuses is a perfect breeding ground to become “student victims “ and some of the best excuses include: “The teacher doesn’t teach; the class is noisy; everyone else does the same thing; there’s no real textbook; there’s too much homework; the tests are too hard and I’m way too tired.”

Life is indeed demanding and those demands start very early. Blaming and excuse-making go hand-in-hand, and they prevent our kids from understanding what needs to happen to “get it done.” Our kids must learn how to solve problems, not complain about them.

They shouldn’t be allowed to blame other people, places or things for not meeting expectations or completing tasks. In reality, when our kids blame someone else, they’re saying “It’s not my responsibility and I’m a victim of that person, experience or thing.”

Make no doubt about it, kids who see themselves as victims and are allowed to perpetuate that rationale have a tough time achieving the milestones that life and school development demands.

When parents make excuses for their kids, they think it minimizes the problems their children are having. If you see your child as a victim, they will eventually see themselves that way, too.

This is perhaps the most treacherous part of blaming and excuse making, because it develops one of the worst possible perceptions in kids: “Since I’m a victim, the rules don’t apply to me.” Herein lies the real danger.

There are rules that accompany learning. There are rules that accompany individual change. Students who don’t follow those rules often don’t learn and don’t change. This yields too much focus on the child as “victim” and not the student as participant in his own education and maturation.

Let me be clear: Excuse-making is not a sign of bad parenting; it’s simply ineffective. It’s very difficult for parents to be firm when their kids are having a harder time than other kids. But sticking to your guns is what it takes.

Parents cannot solve their child’s learning problems for them. They have to empower the child to do that and it starts with this thought: Stop seeing your child as a victim and blaming external situations for the lack of achievement, advancement and accolades.

When kids focus on excuses, parents need to focus on responsibility. Of course, some excuses are valid, and the responsibility for knowing how to sort that out rests with the parent. But many times, excuses are just simply thoughts children use to excuse themselves from not meeting their responsibilities.

When those are raised in conversation, our kids want to shift the focus away from the responsibility and onto the excuse, parents then must shift it back from excuse and onto the matter at hand: the child’s responsibility.

If you argue or debate the excuse, you’re simply encouraging your child to come up with bigger and better ones.

My advice: don’t argue, just focus on what they need most – taking responsibility for everything they do.

This column is by Ritchie Lucas, founder of The Student Success Project and previously Think Factory Marketing. He can be reached at 305-788-4105 or via email at, and on Facebook and YouTube as The Student Success Project.

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