It seems like there are just days when siblings can’t stop pushing each others buttons. One hits the other, the other hits back, or name calls back. At our house the kids are usually warned, and then if the problem doesn’t end a time out of some sort it usually given. Once things have calmed down, then an apology is given and a hug. Generally teaching the basics of saying sorry isn’t too hard. Although, it’s a little tougher to teach what being truly sorry is (and what truly forgiving is). Young kids especially have tender hearts though. They are usually quick to forgive, and quick to feel bad for things that have happened (at least once they’ve seen they’ve hurt someone else).
What can we do as parents to help them understand the importance of telling someone else they’re sorry? I believe that it goes back to the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”
Let’s go back a second. Have you ever had a day where the kids are pushing all of YOUR buttons? They know just what to say to make any patience that you may have had left, disappear? I may or may not just put myself in time out some days. Lol. Sometimes I just have to walk away, and calm down a bit. I usually go sit in my closet. 🙂 Then if they do end up in my room (if I don’t get the door locked), I still have a moment longer until they figure out WHERE I am in my room. I take a moment and collect myself try to muster up some more patience and confidence in myself to keep going, to finish the day … the hour even.
There are times in these moments, before I take myself to time out, that I sometimes say things (maybe in loud tones … ), that I shouldn’t have said. Maybe I should have been more understanding, less judgmental more loving, and less harsh. It is in the moment that I try to put myself back together and remember that I’m the mom, and I’m the one that is supposed to be the example to THEM that I remember, I still can be. It is in this moment when I need to go back to the child or children that I’ve been impatient with and say that I’m sorry, and give them a hug and ask forgiveness Then be more gentle in explaining things the way they should have been done in the first place.
I believe that is the best way to teach our children to say sorry to their siblings, their parents, their friends. We need to be the example. Saying sorry and that we did something wrong is HARD, even if the child is only 2 or 3. If we can show them that we are wrong sometimes too and that we sometimes don’t make awesome choices or say our words in kind ways, I think that in turn, they will learn to do that to others. They may need to be prompted, to cool down, to gather their thoughts or themselves back together before they can do it. We all need time to calm down and asses the situation we’ve been in. I also think that when our children tell us sorry, we need to be quick to forgive. Loving them is so important. They need to feel safe in our home. They need to feel that love from us. There can still be consequent for their actions with love and forgiveness involved. I don’t think they should get off the hook for doing something awful … but we still need to be an example of apologizing, forgiving, love and safety in their lives. If it isn’t with us, they will find it somewhere else … and that could be somewhere that won’t teach them the right.
I happened to run across this article that was on the same topic, from a teenagers point of view of his father apologizing to him and the positive effect it had on him. I loved it. Take a moment to read it.