Teaching your child how to be apologetic when he/she wrongs other people is arguably one of the best life skills you can ever impart on your child. And as a parent, you should discourage your child from being bully by showing him/her the importance of apologizing and being humble after wronging other people. Here are a few tips that you can use to teach your child to apologize. (See other parenting resources)
1. Start young
The best time to teach a child something new is when the child is still young. As such, teach your child how to apologize when they are still young. Let your child know that it is not right to hurt others but when it happens, it is only right to apologize. You can teach your child to hug and verbalize an apology to other children or any other person they may have hurt. Such a lesson imparts a child’s life positively and makes it possible to for them to relate well with other people; the young and old alike.
2. Teach the child when to offer an apology
It is hard for a small child to know when he/she has wronged another person especially if they do it unintentionally. While it is important to help your child identify when they are right or wrong, this realization might take long to take place in children. To help your child realize when he/she has wronged another person, let them know how they would feel if someone wronged them.
3. Model apologizing
Children learn by watching what adults do. Therefore, when you offend anyone or overreact, it is right that you apologize. This will make it easy for your child to understand the importance of apologizing and seeking to be forgiven after wronging other people. It is important for your child to understand that everyone makes mistakes and that apologizing does not show weakness but it shows that you are strong enough to accept your mistakes.
4. Use polite language when apologizing
Your child needs to learn that an apology is only acceptable if it is genuine and made politely. Teach the child the right choice of words to use when apologizing. For instance, teach your child to say “excuse me” and “I’m sorry” when apologizing. A heartfelt apology that is genuine goes a long way in restoring love and peace between you and the person that has been offended. When you offend your child, you should also apologize using polite language and utmost sincerity.
5. Be neutral
Most parents find it hard to reprimand their children when they offend others. This is mainly because the parents are either defensive of the behavior and character of their children or are excessively nice to the children. Either of these extremities is wrong as it might make the children think that it is right to offend others.
When your child gets into a conflict with another child, it is only right that you do not take any sides. Instead, you should be neutral and avoid taking anyone’s side but advocate for the children to apologize to each other. Being neutral sends a message to your child that you do not encourage them wronging and offending other people. While your child might be fussy and mad at you for not taking their side, they will learn a valuable lesson.
6. Teach empathy
Empathy goes hand in hand with being apologetic. When you are teaching your child to apologize, you also need to teach them empathy. This is because empathy helps children understand how it feels to be wronged and hurt. It makes children realize how hurting it can be to be wronged by another person and as such, makes it possible for your child to value the virtue of being sorry and apologetic. In addition to this, empathy also makes it possible for children to understand the connection between hurting someone and the reaction that the person shows when wronged.
7. Help the child process their emotions
As a parent, you need to understand your child’s emotions and help the child process these emotions. For instance, if your child is mad for having wronged another child, you should help him manage and process these emotions so that the emotions do not overwhelm him and become hard to control. Children tend to find it hard to apologize as they feel embarrassed and are afraid of losing face in front of other people when they apologize. You should ensure that you help him/her accept that mistakes are part of life and that it is not wrong to make a mistake.
8. Offer to help your child to apologize
Your child will definitely feel secure and confident to apologize when you offer to help him apologize for his mistakes. For instance, you can walk to your neighbor’s home with your son to have him apologize for hurting the neighbor’s child. However, when offering your child help to apologize for his/her mistakes, always ensure that the actual apology comes from your child. This is so that he/she can learn that it is necessary to say sorry after offending other people.
9. Teach your child to respect other people
Most intentional mistakes and offences to other people by children come about due to lack of respect on the part of the children. Due to this, you need to stress to your child that it is important for them to accord other people respect, particularly their seniors. When children express respect and courtesy to other people, it becomes possible to lower their likelihood of becoming aggressive and hurtful behavior to others.
10. Punish your child if they repeatedly commit the same mistake intentionally
When you child seems to commit the same mistake or hurt other children repeatedly, you should step in and punish him/her so that they do not repeat again. If your child realizes that you are comfortable and alright with him hurting others because he will eventually apologize, he may end up causing extreme emotional hurt to the people he offends especially children. Whichever punishment you decide to use, always ensure that your child understands that it is wrong to hurt others and that such a behavior is unacceptable by all ways.
As a parent, it is important to note that good morals and behaviors in children can only be imparted when the child is young, in the early stages of development. This makes it possible for the child to grow with good morals and with regard for other people and their feelings.
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