Raising “No Excuses” Kids

How do we raise “No Excuses” kids?

Raising No Excuses Kids

Photo Credit: Steven Depolo

It starts so young. The excuses; the blame game; the tendency we have to claim “I’m right!” instead of taking ownership of where we screwed up or simply could have done something differently.

Anna asked for the sidewalk chalk. I handed it over with the words of caution: “Try to keep your chalk away from your sister. We don’t want her to eat it, right?” A cute and simple reply “Right, mama.”

Within minutes, the blame game begins. “Mama! Sissy is eating my chalk! She took it from me!”

There are a few different ways I could respond here:

1. Sympathize and Rescue. As a woman who feels deeply and empathizes quickly, this would be my instinctual response. With a giant hug and a wipe of her tears, I could say “Oh sweetie… I am so sorry! That silly sister. She needs to learn not to eat chalk! Mommy will take her away so she doesn’t take your chalk.”

2. Discipline the Other Child. “Kenzie! No no, sweetheart. We don’t eat chalk, and we don’t take it away either.”

3. Hold the Child Accountable. Oye – This is the hard one! We can recognize that yes, Anna knew to keep the chalk away from her sister; and then work with her to learn a lesson on accountability. “Sweetie. How can you keep the chalk away from your sister next time?”

Our kids – they will grow up in a world where circumstances are not always the way they want, or people will not act the way they expect. What is that quote we often hear?

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. ~ Epictetus

How can we raise kids who do not make excuses, but take responsibility for their actions?

The QBQ Guy, John G. Miller, wrote a book with his wife Karen that I highly recommend – Parenting the QBQ Way. QBQ stands for Question Behind the Question. In this book, John and Karen Miller reminded me of two things:

1. “Modeling is the most powerful of all teachers” (p. 38)

If I want kids who are accountable, then I must also be accountable.

One area where I tend to play the blame game is with my commute to work. I make the excuse that “I am late because of the traffic!” or “I will never get to work on time because of this awful winter!” 

While it is true that the traffic is often bad, it is also true that speaking to myself in this way puts me in the role of being a helpless victim. It makes me feel powerless. Physically, my head hangs lower and my mood is not as upbeat.

And my kids are seeing me act like this!

The QBQ Guy would suggest that I ask a different question “What can I do to get going earlier so that even if I do hit traffic, I am on time?” This question, while I might not like it, puts me in the position of being able to do something. I am not helpless. I am empowered. And my kids are watching!

In Parenting the QBQ Way, John and Karen Miller teach the reader a simple  goes through a simple method of asking accountable questions of ourselves so we are modeling empowered living vs victim living. If we want our kids to live a no excuses life, then we must also live a no excuses life!

2) Ask Accountable Questions.

Instead of rescuing my kids, I can ask them questions that help them learn to live in shoes that are empowering vs victimizing.

Rather than picking up the toy room for my kids, I can ask “What can you do to keep it cleaner tomorrow?” Instead of saying “I know Suzie was mean to you. Mommy will talk to her mom”, I can ask “Sweetie, what will you do the next time Suzie says something mean to you?”

I am not fixing the problem for my kids. After asking these questions, I can help them come up with the answers, especially while they are young. But asking accountable questions will help them develop a pattern of living empowered rather than acting helpless; taking action instead of complaining about the awful world we live in.

Can you see how raising “No Excuses” kids will also help us raise a generation of kids with leadership qualities?



  1. The accountability issue applies to everyone – child and parent, employee and employer, etc. Great article.

  2. Great post! It is our responsibility to ensure our children learn accountability, starting from a young age if we want them to grow into mature, responsible adults. I love this approach to instilling this important lesson!

    Thank you for sharing with us at #MommyMeetupMondays!

  3. I love this. What you said about teaching our kids to live in shoes that are empowering and not victimizing, spot on. I feel that our society is full of people playing the victim, looking for someone else to hold accountable or anything not to take responsibility themselves and I don’t want that for my kids. Great post and thank you for linking up at #MommyMeetUpMondays

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