Children are inherently egocentric making it easier for them to recognize when they are owed an apology than owing an apology. Often even when a child is aware she owes an apology she is shy about expressing it. Prying an apology out of a child’s mouth is often like prying a bone from a dog. Teaching a child to apologize takes consistent help and patience and modeling the behavior yourself. Its not easy any time to apologize, but the sweet free printable apology forms we’ve included in this post will help make the task a little more accessible for kids as they learn the steps to apologizing.
Why Apologies are Hard
Teaching a child to say “I’m sorry” can prove difficult. The difficulty is rooted in pride. Do not underestimate a child’s sense of pride. Not unlike many adults, pride drives a child’s perception and behavior. Basically, it can be just as hard for a child to admit fault as an adult. Additionally, a child can perceive her action as justified because the other person offended her as well. Until a child is willing to admit they have done something wrong, any apology given will be meaningless. So it’s important as the parent to get to the heart of the sin first, give your child some time to ruminate, and then expect the child to apologize.
An apology can be hard to muster when it feels like blame. For example, when a child accidentally steps on her friend’s foot, she may not feel an apology is needed because she didn’t do it on purpose. It is crucial to teach a child that an apology is also given so the other person understands the action or offense was not intended.
In short, an apology requires humility and taking responsibility for an error which conflicts with a sense of pride.
What an Apology Teaches a Child
Humility: A child learns how to humble herself when she apologizes.
Forgiveness: Apologies teaches a child to seek forgiveness and to offer forgiveness when she is offended by others.
Ways to Teach a Child to Apologize
You can role play together or use stuffed animals or figures to act out a scene where one needs to apologize to another. Construct a simple situation (or use a situation where your child should apologize) and allow your child to objectively take in the scene. Before the apology, ask your child what should come next and why. Demonstrate a sincere apology and forgiveness from the offended party. Show an insincere apology so your child can see the difference. Allow your child to lead the discussion on how she views the sincere and insincere apology.
Be an Example:
Children learn by example. When necessary apologize to your child to demonstrate the process and importance of an apology. Your child should see that even those in charge can make mistakes and humble themselves. If you struggle to apologize your child will also struggle. Your actions will be the greatest influence on your child giving sincere apologies.
Show Making it Better:
To help a child understand that an apology is not meaningless it is essential to teach an apology should have action behind it. Ask the child, “How can you make it better?” Encourage your child to follow a verbal apology with an act of kindness.
Want to download our awesome Apology forms to help your kids learn the steps to a proper apology and work through their apology in writing? Click here to get it free.