A lot! I have definitely evolved in the apology sphere of my life. All the years of being a mom, teacher, educator, wife, and friend I’ve said and heard it all!
“Say you’re sorry to Sam for stealing his scissors, James!”
“I’m sorry”, grumbles James. (eyes rolling and voice barely audible)
Well, that’s good. Now we’re covered that, ready to move on!” declares the principal.
Familiar scenario? In my experience, most apologies follow the “I’m sorry” with justification for why they committed the offence in the first place. Not so good to then divert the blame to others.
“I took his scissors because he stole my crayon,” declares James. Parents accept insincere apologies primarily because they’re more efficient in the short term and sometimes forcing your kids to “say sorry’ minimizes embarrassment in a public situation. Here are a few ‘apology tips’ that can help you raise a simply kind kid!
- Begin when they are babies, even if you think they won’t understand. Toddlers very quickly learn to interpret a loving hug and sincere tone of voice following a scary look on Mom or Dad’s face.
- When attempting to elicit an apology, evoke empathy by helping her to recall a similar situation when she was the victim. “How did you feel when…?”
- Help him to explain what provoked the misbehavior and empathize with his feelings while helping to bring forth more acceptable responses.
- Demonstrate that an apology is the act of an honorable, strong person.
- A meaningful apology should consist of:
- I am sorry for…
- I should have…
- I hope that you forgive me for…
- Apologies should be delivered in front of the audience in which the infraction was committed whenever possible.
- When a dispute clearly has a victim and an offender, I have found it very effective to pay more attention to the victim while the offender watches all that attention bestowed upon his victim.
Parents, as real life inclines us toward expediting our kids’ apologies, please remember that an insincere apology is basically a lie.