Holding Students Accountable for Behavior


One of the biggest challenges of dealing with behavior is holding students accountable. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that moment of sending a disruptive student to the office, only to have them return with a lollipop or a bag of chips a few minutes later. There is truly nothing more infuriating or disheartening than that! In this post, I’m going to share some tips for how to hold students accountable for behavior.

Holding students accountable for behavior

How to Hold Students Accountable for Behavior

If you feel like an island when it comes to holding your students accountable for behavior, don’t be discouraged! There are simple things that you can do within your own classroom to help students take more responsibility for their actions.

Kindergarten students are impulsive! They act on their feelings so quickly, it might seem like they have no control over their behavior. But this is a skill they can develop and there’s no better place to practice than in the structured and supportive environment of your classroom!

1. Help Them Be Proactive

One of the first steps in holding students accountable for their behavior is to teach them that can control how they respond to their feelings. They might not be able to control the fact that they are becoming frustrated, overstimulated, or angry. However, they can practice making more appropriate choices in response to those feelings.

A calm down corner with visual supports

As a teacher, you can provide tools to help them learn helpful coping strategies, like a classroom calming space. Encourage students to be proactive with their behavior by using these coping strategies. When students understand that can control how they respond to their emotions, they are more likely to take responsibility for their actions.

2. Have Clear Expectations

We can’t hold students accountable for breaking rules they don’t know about! When students know exactly what’s expected of them at any given point of the school day, it is easier for them to identify where their actions didn’t meet expectations. 

Kindergarten rules posters on a bulletin board

It’s important to keep classroom expectations simple, so our students aren’t trying to remember a laundry list of rules all day long. You can also use visual supports to make it easier for students to remember the positive choices they’re expected to make in the classroom.

3. Be Consistent

One of the elements of taking accountability for our actions is to be able to say “I did this which caused this to happen.” Consistent consequences can make it easier for students to make the connection between what they do and what happens in response.

This can also work in the other direction. When students are consistently acknowledged and rewarded for the positive choices they make, they are more likely to make the connection that they can make good things happen with their behavior.

4. Include Parents

Even though you take care of behavior consequences in your classroom, it’s important to include parents in the process of holding students accountable. You can contact parents and let them know about the choice their child made at school and the consequence they received as a result.

Using this language consistently with parents can encourage the focus to be on the choice the student made. Otherwise, the student is just coming home with a vague report of “I got in trouble” or “I had to go to the office.” Clear communication with the families of your students can help increase accountability. Parents will be aware of the specific choice that caused the consequence and can continue the accountability discussion with the student at home. 

A completed behavior reflection form

5. Reflect on Behavior

One of my favorite tools for holding students accountable for behavior is a reflection sheet. Not only does this tool help students reflect on their choices, but it also serves as a way to communicate with parents.

Once the student is calm, they can go through a few questions about the situation. These questions specifically align with student accountability:

  • Did your behavior make it hard for you or others to learn? This question encourages students to reflect on how their choices impacted the learning environment..
  • Did you try a coping skill before your behavior choice? This is a chance to discuss alternative choices the student could have made in that situation.
  • Where did it happen? While this might just seem like an informative question, it also opens the door to other elements of accountability. For example, did the student choose to use a piece of equipment on the playground that often causes conflict?
  • What choice did you make? Acknowledging the behavior is an essential part of taking accountability.
  • How did you feel? It’s important for students to process how they felt when they made that choice. This can help them identify that same emotion in the future and hopefully make a better choice in response.
  • What will you do differently next time? This is a powerful question for holding students accountable. This emphasizes that they have control over how they respond to their emotions moving forward. 

After the student has had a chance to reflect on their behavior, you can make a copy of this sheet and send it home. This also serves as helpful documentation if the pattern of challenging behavior continues.

Printable Behavior Reflection Sheets

To make it easier for you to hold students accountable for their behavior, I’ve put together a low-prep set of Behavior Reflection Sheets. This resource contains three differentiated pages that you can use to help students reflect on their choices. The different formats allow students to be part of the reflection process regardless of their writing skills. 

Three types of behavior reflection sheets sit in a desk

If you’d like to take a closer look at this set of behavior reflection sheets, just head over to the Teaching Exceptional Kinders shop or to my TPT store.

Save These Tips for Holding Students Accountable

If you’re short on time, be sure to save this post for later! Just add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest. You’ll be able to quickly find these tips and resources when you’re looking for ways to hold students more accountable for behavior.

5 Helpful Tips for Holding Students Accountable


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