Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


By Domenick J. Maglio PhD. Traditional Realist

In our permissive culture hardly anyone is held accountable. People do not want to get involved with correcting anyone else. It is less aggravating to accept an unacceptable excuse than to investigate the circumstance to decide if the person’s reasons for their actions were legitimate. Even if the authority figure arrives at the truth of the person’s behavior he still has to confront the individual. This responsible approach will tarnish the person’s reputation as a “nice guy,” which has become more important than doing his duty. This same issue of having to be a “nice guy’ to my child rather than do my duty as a parent is permeating the way we are raising our children.

Parents are busy working and socializing with their peers. The quality time they spend with their children is limited. When the children are mature enough to contribute to the family, modern parents do not make the time to teach them how to do the activity in an effective and efficient way. The parent assigns a task but does not follow up to show the child the correct way to do it. Afterward the child gives the parent an argument that he cannot do it.

The child is told by the parent or other adult to “just do your best” when the child says, ”I can’t do it. The parent or other adult unwittingly gives him a built-in excuse to do as little of the task as the child thinks he can get away with. The child hems and haws making one excuse after another for not doing a credible job. The parent becomes exasperated and ends the confrontation by saying “just do your best.” This becomes the child’s built-in fall-back position for everything he does carelessly. “I tried my best.”

Today’s children are being taught that making the simple statement: “I tried my best” gets them off the hook for not putting quality or effort into completing an assignment. The majority of parents and other adults conveniently feel the youngster is too young to be accountable. These parents are ignoring the responsibility to show the child how to do a good job to become a more skilled and competent individual.

The bar for doing a good job is lowered not out of kindness but rather the laziness of not dealing with work ethic training. The same excuse is used over and over again with no one mentioning “this is not anyone’s best,” “I will show you what you have to do for an acceptable job.” This training is an act of kindness. The parent, teacher or any other authority is being responsible by calling out the child’s game and  showing him what makes an excellent job. This begins the process of ending the child’s shenanigans.

The follow–up is the key to reversing a bad habit. “Do you remember you were supposed to do this next step and in this way? After you accomplish this then it will be necessary to do all the required steps to do an excellent job.”

When the child realizes he cannot talk his way out by doing a non-caring, sloppy job without getting significant consequences, the job begins to approach some level of acceptability. Only when he obtains a level of quality should he receive praise that he now has earned.

Quality work is developed by repeatedly doing something correctly through a best effort. “I did my best,” and other excuse games can be conquered by due diligence from a concerned adult.  The longer the game has been used, the harder it is to reverse. It is best to start the training as soon as possible, depending on the physical and mental capacities of the child. Much of the training should begin in the toddler stage.

Doing a quality job is a great gift to instill in a youngster. It changes the way a person attacks any activity and arrives at an excellent result. It forms a framework for the young person to evaluate the completion of any activity. It sets up standards and expectations that guide the person in tackling any endeavor from schoolwork to chores and later professional work and everyday projects.

A parent or other authority figure such as a teacher who accepts a child saying “I did my best” statement when he did not, is doing the child a great disservice. It encourages the child to believe that lying pays dividends. Additionally it convinces him that adults are not too smart or do not care enough to give the child “the time of day.”

Children quickly come to the conclusion that most adults, even parents are phony as they do not truly care. This assessment is a pathetic although correct appraisal of too many adults. Children look for strong authority figures who show their love through discipline. Being honest with children about their deceptive games is more time consuming than the adult taking over and finishing the task, which produces a slacker.

This “slacker” will be a parasite on the family and eventually on society.  In the long run teaching the child to honestly do his best will be a blessing for everyone. A productive individual benefits all of society while an excuse maker is a burden on all of us. Watch for excuse games and eliminate them for everyone’s sake especially the one using them.

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at


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