Sometimes, teaching children to say sorry is no easy task and boy, do I know it. All four of my boys, after hurting someone, or taking a toy that wasn’t theirs to take, never would even contemplate saying sorry. After all, they were mad! You’d think I was asking them to kiss the victim on the lips.
Sorry was just out of the question.
So, what is a mom to do? Like most, we use punishment as our tool to get an apology out of them. It usually works, they’ll throw it out at their victim, but do they really mean it when the alternative is punishment?
Using punishment to get the desired results, is a quick-fix tool. It gives us leverage, power, and control over the situation; but does it work with our children’s heart? Does it work for the long-haul?
When we are in one of these situations with our children, the most effective tool is to use our relationship to teach them. Using our relationship based on mutual trust and respect that does not involve punishment or control, gives us a powerful advantage…we have their trust to be an influence. Take the time and find out and care about his or her feelings, too, to find out why he acted the way he did. This is all apart of understanding one another and teaching them how to relate. This is also when we can use this opportunity to teach them about why it is important to say sorry, what God says about our actions, and an alternate way to relate with someone.
Don’t dismay if you don’t see results immediately. Sometimes they might not want to listen to you and this is okay and can be part of the process; walk away and try again when you feel they are ready. If they have taken a toy or hurt a friend or family’s child, it’s okay to tell them your sorry for them until your child is ready. Their hearts need to be open and ready to listen and in order for their apology to be genuine, it needs to come from within and they need to own that feeling. You can’t make it happen and you can’t rush it.
You may be thinking that you don’t have time for all this, that punishment as consequences is all you need to get their attention. But considering that all relationships take time, commitment and investment, same holds true for child rearing. When you invest your time into your children by listening and teaching, without use of punishment, you are not into controlling the moment, you are into giving them tools for life. You will be influencing your children and still respecting their autonomy and that is very empowering for all involved. It is a beautiful thing to witness a child’s sincere apology after a fight, it could be even up to a day or two afterward, but it is from their heart.
How do you teach children to apologize?
With patience, your invested time, and your influence through your relationship…
Here is to us Moms…we need all the encouragement we can get!