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The Top 3 Excuses Kids Make

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The other day I was walking with some laundry on my way to the washer when I heard my daughter say, “No! It’s my money!” Then she came out of her older brother’s room visibly upset. When I asked her what happened, she said that he was pressuring her to give him her allowance money so he could buy a toy he’d been wanting. My son putting pressure and attempting to control his younger sister is constant in our house. So I went into his room to ask him about it. He sat on his bed looking guilty, but somehow managed to think up the worst excuse ever, “I was just kidding.”

When kids want to get out of something, whether it’s getting out of chores or getting out of trouble, you’re likely to hear some pretty amazing excuses. In fact, in most cases, you will hear some version of the 3 excuses below.

1. I forgot.

This one could actually be legitimate. You ask your child to do something. They get distracted and then move on to something else instead. When you ask them about it, they say, “I forgot.” To help your child break this excuse cycle, get them in the habit of doing what you ask right then. If they need to write a thank you note, have them sit down and do it immediately instead of putting it off until later. If the “to do” is something that can wait a while, have them write it down. Encourage them to make looking at their “to do” list a part of their daily routine.

A couple of other excuses that fall into this category are, “You didn’t say that” or “I didn’t know.” For these two, let your child know that he is responsible for understanding the rules, but that you will try to be clear on your expectations. When the “I forgots” are used too often, give your child a consequence that will help him remember.

2. It’s not my turn.

This one can drive a mother to distraction. Something goes undone and you ask your child why he didn’t do what you asked him to do. That’s when you hear, “It’s not my turn.” First, make sure your child knows that if he has been told to do something, it doesn’t matter whether it’s his turn or not.  If your child is old enough, tell him he can earn the right to use the wise appeal. This allows your child to respectfully enter into a discussion with you about your request.

3. It’s her fault.

Another name for this one is the blame game. “I hit her because she hit me first. I broke it because he left it in my way. I failed that test because the teacher didn’t explain it well.” The underlying problem here is refusing to take responsibility for one’s actions. So, methodically walk your child through the episode: So, you hit your sister because she hit you. Well, what she did was not right, but did you make a good choice in the way you responded? Help your child see that he has a choice in how he reacts to situations in his life.

Ultimately, children need to learn that excuses cover up patterns that need to be broken, and those patterns need to be replaced with responsibility.

Tell us! What’s the craziest excuse your kids have ever given you?


What’s the difference between an excuse and an explanation?

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