One Fun, Easy Way to Teach Kids Accountability


There are blessings for obedience and consequences for disobedience. There is also mercy and grace. Lindsey Bell shares how consequences help to teach kids these concepts.

One of the most important biblical concepts I want to teach my children is accountability — the idea that they will be held accountable for the choices they make.

I want my boys to know their actions matter, not only for the here and now but also for eternity.

On the other hand, though, I also want them to understand mercy — the idea that if they choose to follow Jesus, He will take their punishment upon himself so they don’t have to pay the consequences.

One fun way my husband and I have taught these two important concepts—accountability and mercy—is by using the Consequence Can.

I made ours using an old formula can, but a coffee can or something similar would work well too. To make the can, simply decorate the outside of the can with however much “bling” you want to add. (I used construction paper, because I’m not crafty AT ALL!) Then write the words “Consequence Can” on the side.

With your children’s help, write several consequences on small pieces of paper. Fold each of these slips of paper in half and put them in the can. Some of our consequences are:

  • No screen time for one day (that includes TV, movies, phones, computer, video games, etc.)
  • No candy or dessert for one day
  • Go to bed 30 minutes early
  • Play by yourself for 20 minutes (my boys don’t like playing alone!)
  • Sit in time out
  • Lose toy cars for one day

After you and your children have brainstormed several consequences, also write a “Mercy” card.

Then, the next time your child disobeys, ask him to draw a consequence from the Consequence Can. If he draws the “Mercy” card, he doesn’t receive the consequence he deserves but instead receives mercy.

This simple tool has helped my children learn two important (but sometimes confusing) biblical concepts: accountability and mercy. Our actions matter. 

There are blessings for obedience and consequences for disobedience. There is also mercy and grace.

Sometimes, even though we deserve a consequence, we receive mercy instead.

Let’s talk: What other ways have you taught your child about accountability and mercy?

 Written by Lindsey Bell

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