How Do You Hold Your Kids Accountable?

Once we established ownership in our family, we knew that we had to DO something as parents. We had to hold them accountable. But to what? And how? And what is accountability? All great questions to wrestle as we led our emerging family of 5 kiddos into the outside world.

When you state your Mission/Vision/Values in the home, you are creating benchmarks. These are our measurements of behavior:

  1. Serve Others
  2. Be Great
  3. Share, Believe, Achieve

Sounds simple right? It is. There is a reason we want it to be simple. No one wants to memorize, let alone recite or recall, how we expect them to behave if it is complicated. I also want to be able to quickly communicate when our behavior is not aligned with our agreed-upon direction.

Accountability in our family is “Ownership + Measurement.” We hold them accountable with their attitude and their actions. So how do we measure their attitude/actions? It is in their behavior. We have stated intentions for our behavior with our Mission/Vision/Values.

Share – We are going to share our things, but also our time and our attention we give to each other.

Believe – We are also going to believe in ourselves and we are going to believe in each other. How do we SHOW that? We vote with our feet. We show up physically to each other’s things- because we believe in each other.

Achieve – Lastly, we are going to try things. If we are in a baseball game, we go up to bat. If we are in ice skating, we are going to enter the competition. We don’t have to hit a Home Run or place 1st to accomplish our behavior of achieve. But we do have to give all of our God given ability. That’s it. Only you will really know if you gave all of the effort you could have.

So what other things should kids be held accountable for?


How about accountability on social media? Do you have a social media contract with your teens? The number one thing our teens respond to is access and availability to their phones. It is a cold hard truth in today’s world. So we use their phones as a way to keep/hold them accountable to behaviors. It is a great reward/punishment feature of parenting that my kids understand quickly. We use a trust but verify system. We trust you are going to use your phones properly but we are also going to verify. We hold your account passcodes and we have access when we say turn them over. If we can’t gain access or if histories are deleted etc., then they no longer get access to these devices. Our goals are to keep them safe.


Accountability on gaming? One thing we promote is financial independence – but when it comes to phones or gaming devices – we want OWNERSHIP IN THE DEVICE. We want to own 51% in case (which it always happens) we want to say “We own the XBox and it’s getting unplugged today,” or “Hand over your phone now. We own it.”


When there are extra things that need to be done, other than their usual chores, like shoveling snow, raking leaves, cleaning closets etc., we allow them to work to gain more time on XBox, or have a later curfew, or not turn in their phone till an hour later. We try and promote a work before play attitude.

Another approach, is to tie attitude and actions to their sports teams. Which teams have they been on with teammates with bad attitudes? Bad behaviors? How fun was that? What did they learn from it? What do they want to be accountable for? Themselves? What do they want to stand for? Actions? What do they want to project to the world? Attitudes?

So when they show up with shitty attitudes, poor execution, eye rolling and bad teamwork – we ask them to set that aside… and just imagine. What would it be like or look like to be on a Show Choir team with someone that exhibits these traits? What would their basketball coach do or say if a teammate did that? What is it that they want to be accountable for? They can control their actions, execution of values and their ability to work together. That is all on them. What do they want to put their name to… shitty behavior? OK great. Well that’s on you.

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