Apologizing can be very healing for us and others if it is done right.
However, if it's done wrong, it can create distance and put up an invisible wall between people. Apologizing is a skill that is essential in fostering relationships yet most adults struggle with it. This then trickles down to our kids.
There are 2 Big Reasons Why Kids Don’t Apologize:
• The #1 reason children do not apologize is because parents often start lecturing or criticizing their kids when they apologize, which creates “icky” feelings for the kids.
When our kids apologize, instead of just saying “Thank you for the apology. I appreciate it.” we often say things like “It’s not ok. This is the 100th time I told you not to do this.” “Look me in the eye. Stand straight.”
We can save the lesson and next steps for another time. Just accept their apology in the moment.
• The #2 reason is that it’s not modeled! If parents can’t apologize to their kids, why should they? Parents may say “If I apologize to my kids, they won’t respect my authority.” It’s actually the opposite. Kids respect their parents even more when they see that they are able to make mistakes and also apologize. This holds true in any relationship including the workplace.
Tips on teaching kids how to apologize
We call it “CIVIL Sorries”...
CALM DOWN FIRST
Find privacy to Breath or do a calming activity. This may take 5 minutes or may require you to wait until you are home alone with your kiddo 2-3 hours later.
Tell them to re-imagine the story of what happened in their head or say it out loud.
Give all FEELINGS a voice for the story. Ask them: “What did you feel? What did your friend feel?” And remind them “Remember you are perfect just as you are. What you did, is not who you are. We can always do better.”
INVESTIGATE YOUR PART
Tell them to pretend to be a detective and find the answer to the mystery. You can say “Can you find your part in the story? What did you do that may have made the other person feel bad?”
Let them know: “When you are brave enough to say sorry for your part, you give yourself even more love. Go give yourself some love.”
For more parenting tips and guides, subscribe to our newsletter and receive a curation of our favorite reads for kids and printable guides for parents!