Child holding up sorry sign

Frustrated child sitting on couch with momChildren are not exactly known for their excellent apology skills. Even the most emotionally intelligent adults have a hard time admitting when they are at fault, and delivering an authentic apology with an intention of repairing harm done. Work with your child on developing these skills at a young age in order to encourage them to be more able to apologize in the future when necessary.

Encourage a genuine apology.

Many kids apologize before they are truly ready to do so. What results is often a mumbled, under-the-breath, half-hearted apology that even other children can tell is not really felt by the child offering the apology. Instead of urging your child to apologize right away, talk to him about why he caused harm, talk to him about others’ feelings, and assure him that you still love him. Children have a hard time sitting with their own remorseful feelings when they are afraid that admitting fault might lose them a bit of love or affection.

Keep excuses to a minimum.

Your child may want to say that she is sorry, but may also have a dozen excuses lined up to explain away her behavior. However, if she has hurt the feelings of another child, that child may not want to hear her excuses for hurting their feelings. A sincere apology that shows that your child knows what she did wrong is preferable to a child trying to excuse herself from her own undesirable behavior.

How can things be made right?

Once your child has offered his apology, brainstorm with him to determine how he can help to make things better. If he accidentally ripped someone else’s artwork, maybe he can help to collect materials so that his friend or sibling can repair it. If he has knocked someone over on the playground, maybe he can offer to check for bumps or scratches, or offer an ice pack.

Discussing change.

If your child repeatedly finds herself in the position of needing to apologize to others, help her to examine how she can behave in a way that is less harmful to others in the future. Keep this conversation positive, without blaming her for her past misdeeds, and focus on what she can work on the next time she finds herself needing to make a decision between a good choice or a bad choice.

Does your child have a hard time offering an apology when she’s done something to upset someone else? What kind of conversations have you had regarding apologies? Let us know in the comments section!