American culture has subtly shifted toward playing the blame game…have you noticed?
That politician made my medical bills higher.
That sports professional discriminated against my race.
That police officer puts my community in danger.
That president is ruining my life and my freedoms.
I’m sure you could add many more items to that list!
But this is not a pattern which we want to instill in our youth. Rather than playing the blame game, we need to encourage them to claim the blame.
The ridiculousness of blaming others
When we blame others, we’re doing a disservice to our future self. Pointing the finger elsewhere allows our present self to become stagnant. We aren’t growing, maturing or changing because apparently we don’t need to. We assume that everyone else is responsible for my damaged, difficult, less-than-ideal life. It clearly has nothing to do with me.
That sounds just a tad bit ridiculous, right?! Unfortunately these are the kind of “truths” being modeled for the children of today. They observe adults pointing the finger, playing the blame game, and never picking up the responsibility. The little ones notice that the adults remain firmly rooted to their territory, as if their feet are glued to the tiny square of land that they own. But in reality, those adults with sore pointer fingers are overlooking the fact that they own an entire square acre, not just a square foot.
Claim the Blame
If you claim the blame, you are setting yourself up for a bright future! You will learn more about yourself, be better at empathizing with others, will improve your character, pursue growth, and become a responsible citizen who positively contributes to your society. It’s like stretching your legs throughout your broad acre instead of getting leg cramps within your little square foot of grass.
Let’s pause for a music break to reflect on the benefits of claiming the blame:
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” -Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again. -Aaliyah, Try Again
“I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down.” -Tubthumping,
There is a reason these artists sing about this topic: because everyone can relate! Don’t beat yourself up over a mistake; instead, stand up and try again. When things don’t happen as planned, give yourself grace and forgiveness…then move on. Allow the highs and lows, the successes and failures, the victories and mistakes of each season to equip you for your future.
How To Teach Your Students To Claim The Blame
- Practice what you preach. Before you even address this topic with your students, practice claiming the blame in your own life. When you follow hard after growth, change and maturity, instead of perfection, you learn to take responsibility for failures instead of blaming others. And that’s contagious. Model these principles first, then start a conversation with your kids.
- Train them to consider the root of the conflict. Conflict is inevitable. Teach your students how to handle conflict instead of how to avoid it. Challenge them to reflect on the root of the issue:
- Did I start this conflict?
- Did I contribute to it? Or did I feed the problem and cause it to grow?
- Did I get sucked into it and truly have nothing to do with the origin of the conflict?
A student acknowledging that he/she played a role in the conflict encourages him/her to claim some of the blame.
- Review all claims. After recognizing one’s role in the conflict, consider who else is involved and what they are saying.
- Who started the conflict? And for what reason?
- What is each party hoping to gain from this conflict?
- What resolutions are each party suggesting?
- Claim the blame or stop playing the game. There are only three options for your students during a conflict:
- They are playing the blame game.
- They are claiming the blame.
- They have been drawn into the conflict but are not playing an active role. (Although this position is unlikely because students usually have many opinions!)
- Be a mentor and mediator during conflict. Help each student/party acknowledge who started the conflict, their claims, and the actions they need to take to resolve the issues.
Start the conversation
Start the conversation today with your students. Train them to claim the blame instead of following society’s pattern of playing the blame game. Maybe the youth will surprise us by their eagerness to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner instead of dragging it through the mud. Start the discussion today, and don’t forget to model it to your students by claiming the blame in your own life too!