How To Teach Your Child To Apologize Without Prodding By Mariel Uyquiengco

Here's another helpful article for young parents in teaching our kids to apologize, yes without prodding. Thanks MomCenter for articles like this...

How To Teach Your Child To Apologize Without Prodding
By Mariel Uyquiengco

Do you like it when other people put words into your mouth? When a friend assumes that she knows how you feel better than you do? I don’t, and I think nobody else does either. But as parents, we tend to do this to our children when we order them to “say ‘I’m sorry’” before they have even realized that they did something wrong or inappropriate. When you think about it, teaching kids to apologize is more than just directing them what to say.

Well-meaning adults must understand that children have not yet developed the ability to quickly assess or read a situation to take appropriate action. When we swoop in and prod them to “Apologize!” like they are some kind of robot, we rob them the opportunity to contemplate and come to a realization on their own. Mere words are cheap and can be uttered mechanically. If we want our kids to say sorry because they mean and feel it in their hearts, we must give them the respect that we give others and refrain from directing them to make an apology.

So, how should we go about teaching kids to apologize? Like in helping kids acquire good manners, the key is modeling humility to our children partnered with patience and understanding. Consider the ideas below on how to help your child develop empathy and not just mouth the words.

Model Making An Apology

Nothing teaches a child better than seeing her parents do what they preach. Apologize to others, including your kids. To provide insight, take one step further and explain the situation, how you feel, and what made you say sorry.

Share Your Stories

Has your child ever asked you to tell her a story about when you were a little girl? Take the opportunity to build a bond and share how you were just like her when you were little. Share your own struggles with asking for forgiveness. This makes you relatable to your child while imparting life lessons!

Be Calm

When your child hurts somebody, accidentally or otherwise, remember that children need more time than adults to process their thoughts, especially in a tense situation. Instead of bullying your child to automatically say that he’s sorry, narrate what has happened and guide him to guess what the other person might be feeling. Sometimes, they don’t even know that they hurt someone.

Acknowledge Other Forms Of Being Sorry

See beauty in kind gestures that are better than an automatic “I’m sorry.” A young child will hug, pat, or give some kind of comfort as a way of expressing his regret. Take it as it is and don’t expect more. He will grow up and find the words, unprompted, to accompany his actions.

Read Books About The Topic

Reading books give children the ability to make sense of an experience that they might have had and did not understand. It can show them what to do without the feeling of being judged. Some titles to consider for ages four to six are “I’m Sorry” by Sam McBratney, “Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry!” by Samantha Berger, and “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” by Kevin Henkes.

Teaching kids to apologize is not as simple as nudging them and saying in a stage whisper, “I’m sorry, ________!” If we want our kids to develop authenticity in their interactions with other people, we must model the behavior expected of them, help them understand their mistake, and allow their regret to grow in their hearts.


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