In the story of Adam and Eve, G‑d comes into the garden of Eden and asks Adam: "Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?" A simple question — did you or didn't you? Adam replies: "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate." G‑d then approaches Eve and asks, "What is that, that you have done?" Eve replies "The serpent deceived me and I ate." By the time that G‑d gets to the serpent, he doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Being direct descendents from Adam and Eve, perhaps some of us may have inherited this human weakness — to look for others upon whom we can place blame when mistakes occur. Some smokers blame the government for allowing cigarettes to be sold in the shops, and some overweight people blame the supermarket for selling fatty foods. We often forget that every time we point a finger at somebody else we are, at the same time, pointing three fingers back at ourselves.

Children may learn this attitude and look for whom they can blame for their mistakes. You can hear them say things like "It's my teacher's fault," "It's my sister's fault," and so on.

One of the best ways of teaching children to own up to their responsibilities is by being living examples. A good leader — and every parent is a "leader" in their family — is one who can stand up and say: "I made a mistake, I'm responsible, and there is an important lesson I have learned about how to avoid such a thing happening in the future."

Some companies have a book in their reception areas titled Mistakes I Have Made and What I Have Learned from Them. Every time someone makes a mistake they go to that book and write down what the mistake was and what they learned from it. In such a positive environment people have no fear of owning up to their mistakes because it is looked upon as a learning and growing experience.

There are some adults who are in their forties and fifties who have difficulty in making choices. When faced with a dilemma, they still go back to their parents, asking them what to do. Perhaps this is because they grew up in an environment where people were afraid to own up to their mistakes.

When a child sees that their parents are not afraid to admit that they made a mistake, and are prepared to take full responsibility for their actions, this child will feel more comfortable and confident in making choices. If things go wrong they learn from them and keep going to become a better and more responsible person.

It would also be helpful if we could teach a child from an early age to make choices themselves, appropriate to their age. To a three-year-old child the parent may suggest, "Do you want to eat breakfast from the red plate or from the blue plate?" As the child gets older, the choices become more sophisticated, with some consequences and lessons which could be learned. He or she will grow up to be a healthy functioning adult making choices, learning and growing.

Try it - you'll like it!