LEARNING TO APOLOGIZE

LEARNING TO APOLOGIZE

“Johnny, tell your sister you are sorry for taking her cookie.”

“Bonnie, tell Anne that you are sorry for pushing her.”

How have we tried to teach our kids to apologize up until now? Usually, we tell them to, “Say you’re sorry,” to their sibling or friend when they have acted poorly. The result is usually some barely intelligible grunt made while staring at the floor that sounds somewhat less than convincing.

Not exactly what you were looking for.

Humble pie. No one likes to eat it. Yet it is something we must all taste from time to time.

Apologizing means admitting that you did something wrong. That seems to rub against our human nature, doesn’t it? We don’t want to admit we were wrong, yet truth be told, we all make poor choices far more often than we’d like to admit.

Apologizing is important because it is the first step in repairing a relationship. If someone has acted negatively toward another, then some amount of relationship damage has occurred. It may be minor or it may be major, but damage is damage. And as I like to say in sessions, “Whoever did the hurting should do the fixing.”

This is why having your kids apologize when they have hurt someone, with words or actions, is important. But in this blog, I’d like to remind you of another powerful way to teach your kids the value of apologizing.

Use your example.

Mom and dad are far from perfect and humble pie can come their way too. When you have handled a situation poorly (and we all do), you have a wonderful opportunity to show your kids what a meaningful apology looks like.

“Doesn’t this undermine my authority as a parent?” you may ask. I would suggest that it does just the opposite. It shows your kids what kind of authority you are going to be. Are you going to just talk the talk, or will you walk the walk?

“Johnny, I want to tell you that I didn’t handle that situation very well just now. I was really frustrated, but I still want to talk respectfully, even if I get frustrated, and I didn’t do a good job of that. So, I apologize. Even if we have a difficult conversation, I want to handle my end of it the right way, because I love you. Okay?”

I think Johnny is going to learn how to apologize, don’t you?

What lessons have you learned about apologizing to your kids?

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