Teaching Kids What “I’m Sorry” Really Means

Teaching Kids What I'm Sorry Really Means.

Recently I watched Ellie get ignored by a couple of kids her age. I spent the day with a huge pit in my stomach thinking about it. I was devastated that anyone would treat her that way. I had sent her to a camp where she knew no one, and here she was trying to make friends, and they ignored her. How could a parent raise a kid to be rude to another kid?

Well, it’s my turn to eat crow. Apparently I’m raising a kid who thinks it’s ok to ignore other kids.

Fortunately, I was not home to witness the story I’m about to tell you. Unfortunately for my husband, he was.

As many of you know we recently moved into a new home. The neighbors have been amazing, stopping by saying, “Hi”, introducing themselves and checking to see if we needed anything. The other night four of the neighborhood kids popped by with a plate of cookies to introduce themselves to Ellie.

My husband says they were amazing kids. They came in and chatted for about 20 minutes. Introduced themselves and were well mannered and polite. My daughter still doesn’t know their names, even though they introduced themselves several times and tried to play with her. She completely ignored them. Instead of talking or playing with these kids who came over to meet her, she spent her time running around doing cartwheels, squealing, chasing her two-year-old brother and flat out ignoring them. My husband was mortified and incredibly disappointed in her manners. I am too.

We sat down with Ellie to talk to her about what she did wrong and told her she would need to go next door and apologize for her behavior the next day. To make sure our lesson was getting through to her we asked her to tell us why she was apologizing. Her response “Because I don’t want to be in trouble anymore.” WHAT? NOOOOOOOO!!!! UGH!

I spent the next few days really thinking about this. We teach our kids to say they’re sorry whenever they do something wrong. When Zach hits we demand that he say he’s sorry for hitting, but why is he saying he’s sorry. Is it a consequence for misbehaving or does he really feel sorry for hurting someone?

It should be mentioned, we do not tell our kids to say it blindly. We tell them “Zach tell Ellie you’re sorry for hitting her.” Does that mean that they’re really grasping the concept? Nope.

So how do we teach our kids the real meaning of, “I’m sorry?”

We have a few suggestions for you.

First – After a child has misbehaved, pull them aside ask them why their actions are wrong. This is to make sure they fully understand what they did.

Second – Find out WHY they did what they did. Is there more to the story than just what you saw?

Third – Have the child apologize for their behavior. Don’t just say “I’m sorry.” Say “I’m sorry for…”

Fourth – Make sure your child asks for forgiveness. Remember, if the child isn’t forgiven right away, this can be a consequence to their misbehavior.

Fifth –  Ask again, why what they did was wrong. 

 

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