Teaching children to say sorry is a basic parenting task. However, it is surprising that many children nowadays do not apologize without prompting . And if they do there is just lack of sincerity. Although the words “I’m sorry” may sound too simple, it is far more than just a get away card for doing something wrong. In fact, it reflects character of the person. And character building starts early and it starts at home. Parenting is never easy. This is most especially true when it comes to distinguishing right from wrong.
As a father I feel it is my duty to help my daughter realize the importance of acknowledging one’s mistakes, Moreover, sincerely apologizing marks the humility of the person. So how do we open the world of humility, character and apologies to children? My wife and I employ several techniques. And we work this out as a family.
Model the behavior. One of the best ways of teaching a child is for them to see it around them. When the behavior is constantly seen, it becomes part of their routine. As such parenting requires a lot of modelling.
Do not use apology as a punishment. I see many parents give their child “the look” before they are prompted to say sorry. What this does is associate apology with punishment. Rather, it is important to focus establishing the behavior as a means to acknowledge one’s mistake. Instead of having it as a consequence, it should be a part of the process of self-discipline, learning and change.
Explain the mistake. Many children do not know why they are getting punished. Moreover, they are forced to apologize without knowing why. Let’s face it, children have a different way of seeing what is right or wrong. By explaining why a behavior is wrong or inappropriate, the child will understand social expectations and rules. Likewise, this focuses on apology as understanding the mistake and not just a consequence for a mistake.
These are just three of the ways we can help children get the habit of apologizing but they are a good place to start. Most of the child’s behavior is shaped by their interaction with their family. And proper scaffolding is important to learning the right behaviors. Proper parenting is important in establishing a family with values.