Akin to Responsibility, accountability is also a dying characteristic. Many parents who desire for their children to learn to be self-sufficient individuals are, through a mistaken desire to help their child, harming them and removing the very motivation they need to learn this important concept.
Teaching accountability involves allowing someone to face the results of their own actions. If you bail them out, they won't understand that it was their consequence. The world is too willing to allow excuses. Recent lawsuits have frequently involved attempts to blame someone else for the choices of an individual.
It can be very hard to watch someone else make horrendous choices. And when the consequences begin to rain down on them, our sympathy may compel us to try to ease the way in a manner that is not helpful to the other person. It IS possible to comfort and sympathize without removing accountability.
With very small children, you sometimes CANNOT let them suffer a consequence, it is just too much. But you still must let them bear that portion that they are capable of bearing. To deprive them of the chance to experience discomfort, inconvenience, embarrassment, or distress due to a choice they made, is to remove the only means they have of connecting their own actions with meaningful consequences.
Allowing a child to face the consequences of their own actions, or even providing consequences is not a matter of abuse, and in no way implies justification of any act on the part of the parent which would be abusive. It just means that when your child misbehaves in school, that you do not blame the teacher for your child's choice. It means that if your child steals from the store, you take them back and report it to the manager with the child, and then allow the application of an appropriate consequence such as repayment. Sometimes it means that when your child is of a sufficient age to be responsible for their own personal cleanliness, and they do not wash their hair or wear deodorant, that they experience for themselves the public criticism for their neglect. As parents, we teach, and we remind, but when a child refuses to act on our reminders, there comes a time when it is appropriate to let them accept the consequences and learn for themselves just why we taught them to do it in the first place. Again, this does not imply abuse or cruelty, merely a sincere effort to teach, and then at an appropriate time, letting them experience the result of their choices.
Teaching accountability can be as painful for the parents as it is to the child at times. But it is such an essential skill, that each time a child faces a consequence and we are tempted to minimize it, we must ask ourselves what the long term affect will be if we do, or if we don't, intervene. There are times when it is appropriate to intervene, and times when it is absolutely not ok to do so. Finding the balance as a child grows is a matter of knowing your child, considering the long term affects, and then using your best judgment at the time. The older the child, the more they should be allowed to face their own outcomes.