To “apologize” can be viewed as a sign of weakness. Often, a child will say “Me apologize! No way!” Children from a young age think that they can do no wrong and will refuse to admit a mistake. That’s where our parenting skills come in handy. We should consider helping our children to understand what an apology is and how to be truly sorry for a wrong. This is an important part their development and maturity.
In talking to your children about apologizing, please do not yell at them or make them feel embarrassed, fearful or ashamed. It takes calm heads to address what has happened and that calm head should come from you as a parent. Experts suggest that a parent wait until the child has calmed down and then talk to them about what has happened.
Talking it out is critical. Ask questions as to why your child acted in a certain way. Did he feel jealous? Did he feel left out or excluded? As you are trying to find out why your child acted as he did, your child is also thinking about his actions.
An important part of the discussion should be the other child’s feelings and what could have been done differently. Ask your child how she would feel if the other child did the same thing to her. What could she have done to avoid the situation or to prevent the situation from escalating?
Once these topics have been discussed, then you can move on to the apology. Experts agree that a genuine apology includes understanding that the other person’s feelings should be accepted over your own and that remorse should be shown. In an online article on the website Today’s Parent entitled Here’s What Works Way Better Than Forcing Your Kid To Say Sorry, a former elementary school teacher states that she focuses on three parts of the apology to guide students: “I’m sorry for this … this is wrong because … and in the future I will ….” I think this is wonderful advice because it covers all aspects of an apology.
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