January 23, 2018

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

I'm sorry - not!Apologies are an interesting thing. We were taught as youngsters to always say “sorry”. That is the right thing to do. It just has always bothered me, first to tell my kids to say it and second, the way they say it. ‘Soooorrry’, sniff just does not evoke relationship mending feelings. Over my parenting years I have learned a few things that might clear up and direct us in a more positive training approach in regards to “I am sorry”.

  1. Say “Sorry”. Yes a child needs to apologize but it must be from a truly repentant heart. Otherwise it is just lying. They are not sorry. And now they are even more upset for being busted too! Teaching them what sorry really means is better first than just telling them to say sorry. You can say, “Look if you are not sorry, don’t say you are sorry.  But you do have to say you were wrong and what you are going to do differently next time.”
  2. What sorry really means. Sorry must mean what they did is wrong. If they just sorry without stating what they did wrong, nothing is learned and nothing will change next time.
  3. Sorry but…This technique deflects responsibility. This means more training is needed in taking responsibility for one’s behavior. Don’t  be afraid to address this. “Stevie, it sounds like you are apologizing but you are blaming your sister. So which is it? Are you sorry or is it her fault?”. This can enlighten you and lead to the next point.
  4. Problem solving. So what are they going to do differently next time? Here is where you get a chance to turn this around. Because, most of the time, the need for sorry has come out of poor problem solving anyway. You can talk to them directly or use the What Happened sheet. The What Happened Sheet has 5 questions – 1. What happened? 2- What was I feeling (let them tell you and mad is an okay answer for a while). 3 – How did you handle it? 4 – How did that work out for you? 5 – How can I handle it better in the future? Let them make the first suggestion and say something like “that is one way to handle it. Have you thought about this?” This is a good way to brainstorm and affirm their thinking on their own too!

I know this all sounds good in the quiet of the moment, right? Maybe there is a point to that. Not reacting in the heat of the moment might actually end up helping everyone in the long run!

Could you use some parenting help?

One tool that we’ve used is Total Transformation by James Lehman. It’s given us a lot of solid, common sense ideas for parenting our challenging children – including this tip about not saying sorry if you don’t mean it!

About the author: By

Julie is an awesome parent (along with her husband Matt) to five adopted kiddos and the owner of the Parenting Allies website.

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Comments

  1. Very nice post. Now days it is very hard to a kid to say sorry especially when they think what they did is right. What I did for my kids are explain to them very clearly the consequences of what they did and I give example for them to understand everything easily. After a long talk they say sorry to me sincerely.

  2. I feel you should never make a child say sorry unless they know what they did and are truly sorry for what they did. And till the child is ready to be approached with a sorry from someone , do not allow it to be. Sometimes they;ll just feel that they have the upper hand and didn’t do noting wrong.
    I feel they need to know right from wrong it is important and to commit to their wrong doings, and apologize to the person they have hurt or said something not nice too; only when they understand that the sorry is from thy heart, and not from the mouth of just a breath. Sorry is something that needs to happen only when they truly mean the words.

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Disclaimer: We are not psychologists, counselors, or therapists. We are parents of children with special challenges, and the techniques, tools, and programs we recommend on this website have worked for us on our parenting journey.

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