How are kids going to learn this great skill unless we model it ourselves? At one time parents considered an apology as a sign of weakness, today however we know better, or do we? I still come across scenarios where parents would rather change up the scenario over apologizing to a small child!
I witnessed a mother reprimanding her child in the mall for putting a toy in the stroller, the toddler aged about 4 years was trying to explain she did not put the toy in the stroller, the baby in the stroller had grabbed it off the shelf. All of this took place at the cash register; she never apologized to the toddler. This happens more often than you may think, another possible scenario, you turn just as you see your toddler whack another child, you rush over and demand he say sorry. Had you glanced 30 seconds prior, you may have seen he whacked the other child as that child had just whacked him!
Teaching kids to say sorry also helps kids see from the other side — how their actions were hurtful and why they should make amends. And that’s exactly what is missing too often. Kids seem to be on “auto-pilot” when they apologize. “I’m sorry” is said too quickly with no meaning behind the words.
Practice often at home so your child can use the skill and manners in the real world. Showing children a skill is always more powerful than telling them …so model it. Then remember to admit when you’re wrong and say a sincere, “I’m sorry!” to you kids.
The proper way to teach an apology is to have your child be specific Age 2-4 a child does not understand the true meaning of giving an apology, the word sorry slips from the lips easily but with little meaning. Around the age of 4 they understand more clearly with the correct teaching. Apologies should be encouraged early with a friendly hug and words together.“Tell Ben you’re sorry you took his car”. Now let’s hug and be friends.
Remaining consistent will bring on apologies without too much prompting as they grow. However, note that this example was to encourage not only to say sorry, but to be more specific. “Sorry you took his car” this will encourage your toddler to understand more in the early years why the apology was needed also.
Age 4-6: Your child should be starting to grasp the meaning of an apology and if not apologizing should recognize the right and wrong of doing so. When your prompt a child at this age and you’re met with that sheepish look, you know that they know it’s wrong and an apology is needed! If your child is refusing to apologize rather than push for the apologies which often humiliate kids take him off to the side and explain why he should apologies… be discreet, if you need to call the other child aside also then do that.
- Wrong: In future, I won’t cut in line.
(Right: In the future, I will go to the back of the line.)
- Wrong: In future, I won’t push.
(Right: In the future, I will keep my hands to myself.)
- Wrong: In future, I won’t take your ruler
(Right: In future, I will ask you if I can borrow your ruler.)
8-10 years Children of this age should know why, how, when and where! No excuses your child should know and apologies for mishaps, hurt feelings, not with a quick sorry but like the excise outlined here… they need to have a sincere apology from the heart, one with meaning. At this age you need to explain you can’t make anybody do anything she doesn’t want to do. And that means you can’t make your friend accept your apology. All you can do it admit you’re wrong and try to make amends.” Teach them that admitting their wrong takes courage and won’t go unnoticed in life, it is ok to admit you got it wrong.