As parents, we want our children to apologize when they’ve broken the rules or hurt another person’s feelings. Teaching your child a new life skill takes time – and patience. This is especially true when it comes to helping them learn how to apologize. Apologizing is more than just words. It is about sincerity, empathy, remorse, and a desire to fix the problem.
Figuring out how to teach kids to apologize in a truly meaningful way can be difficult. But we’ve got you covered! Discover these 6 easy ways to teach kids to apologize that will help them both now and in the future.
6 Reasons You Should Teach Kids to Apologize
By teaching our kids to apologize we are doing much more for them than we may think. Apologies aren’t just words. They positively influence our minds and our bodies. Take a peek at some of the amazing benefits:
- They help to reduce retaliation
- Apologies can help with forgiveness
- They teach empathy
- They can help repair broken trust
- Apologies help us to better understand our emotions
- Apologies can help us let go of anger
Before teaching our kids how to apologize, we first need to understand what deserves an apology – and what does not. Check out 8 things kids should NEVER apologize for and 4 situations that ALWAYS deserve an apology.
8 Things Kids Should NEVER Apologize For
- Loving someone
- Saying “no” – when it comes to their limits
- Following their dreams
- Taking time for themselves
- What makes them different
- Standing their ground
- Not knowing the answer
- Telling the truth
4 Things Kids Should ALWAYS Apologize For
- Hurting someone else
- Breaking a rule on purpose
- Not keeping a promise
- Losing or breaking something that doesn’t belong to them
How to Teach Kids to Apologize: 6 Tips
For adults, apologizing can be difficult. For kids, it’s even harder. They need a little extra help. Learning how to teach kids how to apologize is easier than you may think!
1. Focus on the feelings
The first step in teaching your child how to apologize is to skip the lecture and focus on the feelings. Explain that having feelings like anger or frustration is OK. Then let them know that it’s not the feelings, but the actions that came from those feelings that aren’t OK. Ask your child how they think their actions made the other person feel. By doing so, you’re helping them to understand that how we choose to deal with our feelings affects others.
2. Be a good role model
We are our child’s best teacher. Like so many other things, our kids learn how to apologize by watching us. Kids model our behaviors as part of the learning process. So when it comes to understanding how to apologize, they will look to us to find out what to do. By practicing what we preach, we teach our kids what a true apology looks like.
3. Give it time
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to force your child to apologize, so that the whole situation is over and done with. As much as we want our child to apologize immediately, it’s better to allow a little time between their misbehavior and the apology itself. While it may make us feel better, it’s not doing our child any good. Taking some time to calm down will benefit you both. Then you can talk with your child to help them understand their feelings and their actions, allowing them to handle the situation better the next time it happens.
4. Try a little role play
Role playing with your child will help them to make a better choice the next time they’re faced with a difficult situation. Start by helping your child identify their mistakes. If they are having a difficult time, start by talking about what happened, then brainstorm ways they could do things differently. This will help your child discover better ways to handle their emotions. Plus, they’ll be more likely to use these strategies because they’ve practiced them with you first!
5. Action over punishment
When our child refuses to apologize, it’s easy to go straight to the punishment. However this is a time when we need to resist that temptation. If your child refuses to apologize, it may simply be because they don’t know how to say what they’re feeling. Actions are typically easier for them than words. Kids learn best by doing, so encourage them instead to focus on an act of kindness. They can help fix what’s been broken or make something special to give to the other person.
6. Teach them the steps
Once your child understands their emotions and the importance of an apology, it’s time to teach them how to apologize. Guiding them through the apology process is important. They can start by practicing with you. First, have them stand up straight and make eye contact. For most kids, this is the hardest step. Next, they will need to admit what they did wrong and let the other person know how they will work on changing their behavior. They should communicate that they will try their best to not repeat the same action. Practice apologizing with your child so they understand not only the words, but the tone of voice that a true apology requires.
Remember that this is a process. A little patience goes a long way to help your child truly understand empathy and the consequences of their actions. The younger you start teaching them, the easier it will be.
By taking the time to learn how to teach kids to apologize, we are giving them the ability to own their relationships. In time, instead of waiting for us to make them apologize, they are more likely to initiate it themselves. Apologies become more natural and our kids are more aware of how their reactions affect others. The result is a happier, healthier kid!