“I’m sorry”. This so easy to say, right? Wrong.
Most of you would probably agree (I would hope) that saying sorry can be super difficult. It is definitely not easy for me, just ask the hubby. I, the prideful woman that I am, have a hard time admitting that I am sorry when I make a mistake.
Alternatively, there are also those individuals who have no trouble at all saying their sorry, because there is no truth and real feelings attached to it.
So — why do I expect my children to say “sorry”? Be it on their own, or on my command, why do I expect that?
Too often in my house, I find myself threatening my children that if they do not say their sorry they will receive a timeout. But what I have not been considering (or maybe I considered it, but didn’t care) is the fact that that a forced apology is worth nothing. It means nothing to the person who received it and nothing to the person saying it. So why do I force one?
Too often as parents we feel the need to control EVERYTHING, including our children. Embarrassingly, I admit that I try to control my childrens’ personalities, their opinions, and yes their apologies. THIS IS A MISTAKE. Yes, I make mistakes, lots of mistakes, despite what the posts and photos on my Facebook may lead you to believe.
Instead of pushing apologies on our children, maybe we teach them to understand that apologizing doesn’t mean that one person is right and the other is wrong. Maybe we teach them to understand that apologies are more about the value of the relationship you are hoping to retain as a result of the apology. Maybe we teach them that sorry is not always enough; that change is necessary in conjunction with your apology. Maybe we teach them that apologizing is brave and forgiving makes you strong. Maybe we teach them that saying your sorry is important, but that not doing that darn thing you are apologizing for is more important.
But, “sorry” SUCKS; for children and adults alike. It can be uncomfortable to say sorry. It can feel sad to say sorry. It can feel embarrassing to be sorry for something. “Sorry” for some, means feeling like you are giving up control. Ugh! Who wants to do that?
Therein the problem lies. We need to show our children from toddlerhood that sorry is productive and that there is no shame in being sorry. We need to believe that ourselves, so that our kids believe us. We need to model positive apologetic behavior.
Here is a little example of how you can show your kids to apologize and make it comfortable for then:
S : Smile genuinely.
O: Offer a hug/handshake/high-five.
R: Right the wrong.
R: Rest your body and your mind.
Y: You are calm and happy again.
Yes, I do know that your child using something like this and it actually working is a slim possibility, but why not give it a chance? It can’t hurt and at least it may get them thinking about what each letter stands for and what their next step is…which may pull them out of their tantrum. I attempt to try this out with my kids this week.
My daughter also loves to use the “safe space” at her school. Although I have yet to implement one in my home, I think it is a fabulous idea. Let each child decide what manipulatives will be in their safe space to calm them down. Then while in their safe space they can review the SORRY steps and then return to the situation when they are ready to apologize and mean it.
Now…if only it were appropriate for me to have wine in my safe space…