How to Teach Your Child to Apologize (Say Sorry) and Actually Mean It
Along with words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, the other important word your child must learn is ‘sorry’. Learning to say sorry is a hard thing to teach as compared to the other two, because it’s not easy to teach your child to swallow his ego and let go of his pride when saying it. Your child might also not feel that his actions were wrong or that it requires him to apologize. At times, it is difficult to ensure that children actually mean it even when they are not willing to say sorry.
Why is It Important for a Child to Learn to Apologise?
Apologising is not just a social gesture because it helps your kid in identifying his mistakes, taking responsibility for it, and healing the relationship. At times, your child might squeak a sorry just to make you feel better. In such cases, the child does not learn anything from it. It is important to teach your child that saying sorry is not just a simple standby solution. He should learn and understand how he has affected another person by misbehaving. It is easy to force or push your child to say the word ‘sorry’, but making him understand what he has done is far more critical.
Easy Ways to Teach Your Child to Say “Sorry”
For raising your kid to become responsible enough to apologise and accept his mistakes, practice these tips.
1. Teach Your Child When to Apologise
It is hard to make a small kid understand what is right and wrong. But it is important to start bringing these two concepts into their awareness as early as possible. You can begin by explaining the meaning of an apology and pointing out that apologies should be made when he makes a mistake. Encourage the kid to empathise so as to help him realise his wrongdoings, like asking him how he would react if another kid did something similar to him.
2. Show Your Child How to Apologise Correctly
Start teaching your kid the different components of apologising the right way, because a good apology is not just muttering the word under his breath.
- Make eye contact
- Stand up straight and still
- You should encourage the kid to add words into his apology like telling the listener what he did wrong so the listener knows that your kid knows what he did.
- Your child can also end the apology with a promise of doing better in the future.
- To ensure that his mistake has been forgiven, your child can follow up with a question.
- Teach your child to use the correct tone of voice when apologising. You can do this by saying ‘I’m sorry’ in different tones to help your child understand what sounds genuine and what doesn’t.
3. Help Your Child Deal With His Emotions
When you talk to your child about what he did that requires an apology, there are chances that he might be defensive of his actions. In this case, take some time and ensure that he understands why you asked him to apologize and why he shouldn’t feel embarrassed. Let him know that accepting one’s mistake takes courage.
4. Be Neutral
It is never a good idea to fall into two extremities – you should neither be too defensive of your child’s actions, nor blame your child and support the other child. You will also be hearing a lot of “he did it” or “she started it”. Try and remain calm in such situations and explain to them that both of them have to apologise to each other. If your child feels bad afterwards, explain to him that conflict happens between two people and that both of them contribute to it. So even if it did not start because of your child, it is still important to apologise.
5. Let Your Child Apologise in His Own Way
Sometimes he may not want to apologise at the time. In such cases, it is better to give kids, especially the older ones, time to calm down and think about what they’ve done before apologising. He can also apologise in his own way, like giving a hug, or a flower, or even a note. It is more important that your child is willing to say sorry and that he understands his mistake.
6. Make Your Child Aware of The Consequences of Not Apologising
If your child repeatedly refuses to say sorry for what he did, talk to him about the consequences he has to face because of his behaviour. You could say that his friend might not talk to him again and will refuse to play with him.
7. Walk the Talk
Never forget that you should be a good role model for your kid. When you make a mistake, you should never refuse to say sorry to your kid. Your child will never understand the significance of ‘sorry’ if he never hears it in the house. So when it is necessary, apologise without getting very defensive about it.
8. Focus More on the Good Behaviour
Always remember that the more your child starts to differentiate the right from the wrong, the lesser he will have to apologise. Therefore, good behaviour should be focused on more than teaching him to apologise because when the child keeps repeating his mistakes, his apology becomes meaningless. So first prep your child to identify his wrongdoings and amend them. Eventually, he will learn to avoid making such mistakes.
9. Remember to Show Love
When your child does something wrong, never let him feel unloved. Forcing a child to apologise will only make him feel more shameful and angry. Therefore, the best thing you can do is to make your child understand his mistakes and help him figure out the solution.
This process can be hard at first, but your child will gradually start developing responsibility, and he will start understanding the consequences of his actions and behaviour. He will start developing empathy, and you will definitely end up being proud to have raised a polite kid.