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The Art of Apology. Teaching Kids to Say Sorry the Right Way


Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have had to apologize, but the words just wouldn’t come out right? You are not alone. Apologizing can be a complex process. So, how do you teach this delicate skill to children?

Where We Go Wrong With Apologies

The root of the issue might lie in our past. Often, we don’t get to see good examples of apologies while growing up. According to experts, this lack of early-life exposure affects our ability to apologize effectively as adults.

Question to Consider: Have you ever witnessed a proper apology as a child?

Why Kids Need to Learn How to Apologize

You might think it’s just a simple word, but “sorry” holds significant weight. According to Ingall, mastering the art of apology is like developing a muscle; the sooner kids start, the better they get at it.

Interesting Fact: Good apologies lead to better relationships and emotional intelligence.

The Six-Step Framework for a Genuine Apology

This is a straightforward formula to teach kids (and maybe even some adults) how to apologize:

  1. Say ‘I’m sorry’ – Start with the basic admission of wrongdoing.
  2. State what you did – Be clear about the action that led to the apology.
  3. Acknowledge why it was wrong – This step helps demonstrate empathy.
  4. Don’t make excuses – Now’s not the time for justification.
  5. Promise not to repeat it – A commitment to change is essential.
  6. Offer to make it right – If possible, provide a solution.

Example: If a child throws food, a proper apology would sound like: “I’m sorry for throwing food. I understand it was not nice, and I won’t do it again.”

Listening Matters Too

There is also an important ‘half-step,’ which is listening. Once the apology is made, give the other person a chance to respond. This fosters open communication and might help in the healing process.

Question to Consider – Do you always give others the chance to speak after you’ve apologized?

Recognize the Effort

After your child goes through the challenging process of apologizing, it’s crucial to acknowledge it. Praise can go a long way in reinforcing good behavior. However, remember that an apology is not a ticket to escape consequences.

Direct Advice – Say “thank you, that was hard,” to acknowledge their effort without promising impunity.

Making ‘Sorry’ Count

Teaching kids how to apologize is not just about uttering the word ‘sorry’; it’s a comprehensive lesson in empathy, responsibility, and communication. So next time your child errs, guide them through these steps, and you’ll be equipping them with a skill they’ll use for a lifetime.

Written by
Clara Underwood

Clara is a lifestyle writer, outdoors enthusiast, and a mother of two. She writes about everything from weekend family outings in nature to fostering emotional intelligence in children. Clara believes that a balanced family life is the cornerstone of a healthy society.

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