Why making our kids say 'sorry' doesn't make sense (to them)

parenting sorry Apr 19, 2022


Have you ever wondered what kids actually hear when we ask them to say ‘sorry’ for something? 

To their ears - especially if they’re younger - the meaning doesn’t fully register. It’s kind of like asking them to say ‘potatoes’ when they’ve messed up (instead of ‘sorry’). It seems arbitrary because the word means nothing to them.

The next time you feel tempted to force an apology from your kids - it may be on the playground or during school pick-up - try modelling it for them.

‘Oh, Billy - I’m so sorry Johnny kicked the ball into your back. I think we’ll try better next time and pay more attention where we’re kicking the ball. We didn’t mean to do that buddy”.

This approach does two things:

  1. It shows your children how to react in a similar situation rather than telling them. Kids learn so much by modelling, especially from their parents. 
  2. It avoids a power struggle. You’re giving them space to learn without shaming and demanding they apologise. Shame shuts down communication and learning opportunities. Remember this the next time you’re tempted to give you child a dressing down in front of their peers.

If you try this approach, I’d love to hear how you go. Remember, consistency is key and it may take a few tries to see progress, but it does work.


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