Meaning of Sorry needs to be taught to kids to make them empathize with people around.
We don’t make our daughters say ‘Sorry’!
In this post you will find what we do instead.
Time and again I have seen and I’m too sure you must have too… a child runs past and almost knocks down another child, screaming an unapologetic ‘Sorry’ and runs off to continue playing.
Children are often taught to say ‘Sorry’ way before they are capable of feeling sorry for any of their actions without focusing on teaching them the real Meaning of Sorry . Does this sound familiar to you?
The truth is that this act of saying ‘Sorry’ appeases everyone since it’s a polite thing to do.
However my husband and I think pretty differently about this.
For us teaching our kids to be empathetic towards others in order to teach them the real Meaning of Sorry is much more important than pushing them to say ‘sorry’.
Here’s why we don’t make our children say ‘sorry’ all the time:
Before a child turns 4, her brain is egocentric and the world revolves around her. It’s only after 4, a child develops the ability to understand empathy.
A child must be taught subtly that others feel differently than they do.
By teaching the children to say sorry as a response to anything wrong they do, we teach them that every action of theirs has an equal impact.
The word ‘Sorry’ according to most of us means to make the child regret for what she has done ( which isn’t the case often, and is perfectly normal in a typical case).
By teaching children to say ‘sorry’ we are indirectly informing them that they don’t really need to do anything more to fix whatever wrong they did.
Now the fact is that we can’t let a child get away with doing anything wrong or hurting someone emotionally, just because a child won’t understand the real meaning of the word ‘sorry’.
I’m sure by now you must be thinking of what to do instead.
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We teach our kids the real Meaning of Sorry like this:
We teach our children to look for emotional cues in others:
When our children accidentally or intentionally hurt another child, we stop their behaviour immediately. We then point out how their action impacted the other child by saying something like- “That must have hurt him, look at his face. He is crying! “.
Our children learn that their actions have consequences by pointing out the other child’s feelings.
We teach our children to respond:
We then ask our children to check on the other child by asking him – “Are you ok?”. This is the first step to making amends and acknowledging the mistake.
You can also teach your child to ask empathetic questions like – “May I help you? “, ” What may I do to make it better? “.
We teach other children to offer help instantly:
We ask our daughters to instantly take an action to help the person they offended or hurt.
Like if our children break someone’s block creation, we ask them to help the other child fix it.
In case our children hit someone with a stick, we would ask them to get ice for the other child and sit with him .
This won’t just make a child feel more empathetic towards others but would teach important social skills.
In case your child feels she wasn’t helpful, then your child would naturally be motivated to do the right thing next time.
Lead by example:
We model saying ‘sorry’ when it’s appropriate even if we don’t require our children to say sorry.
We do so because using words like ‘sorry’, ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ is a social skill that everyone must be able to do. Your child will naturally pick it up even he or she is old enough to understand true empathy.
Eventually your child will develop the skills needed to be kind, helpful and gentle to others.
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Well, We too try to do the same. But our child become indifferent to the situation, when we ask her to see how you treated the other child or someone else. sometimes we become helpless to make her understand what blunder she is committing.
Hi BhanuPriya. I totally understand your situation. Have been there . Kids are very innocent and it’s easy to teach them a good habit by repetitively reminding them and setting up a great example in front of them. Please don’t give up yet. Keep reminding your child regularly and I’m sure soon she will understand empathy.
An illuminating post that gives out a lesson on child psychology. Most of us, children as well as adults, say sorry mechanically without understanding the inner significance of the utterance and feeling any remorse. Your method is teaching the child to understand what she has done that has caused pain in another human being. Hopefully, children will emerge as more empathic adults. A nice lesson you taught.
Rightly said Abhijit!
Most of the time we say sorry without understanding the implication of the utterance. You are making the child understand why he / she should say sorry. Actually, the child is understanding she has caused hurt to another human being and she is expressing remorse for her act. Hopefully, child will emerge as a better more empathic adult if lesson is truly imbibed in letter and spirit.
I totally second you.
This is something we are trying to do. As Penguin is quite young and learning about emotions. Naming the emotions instead of a polite exchange helps him to understand the other person too
That is great Pragnya. So happy to know that. Kids even when small learn quickly when we lead by example.
A very interesting take on saying sorry and you have really explained why it shouldn’t be step 1 but maybe step 4 or 5. Enjoyed reading this.
Sometimes even adults have a tendency to be hurtful and just brush it off with a sorry. After reading your post I wondered if this is the result of not being taught genuine empathy when they were kids. You are right in saying it is important to make kids understand that it is necessary to make a child more empathetic.
I guess you are right. Empathy is more important to understand than just a simple word
This is indeed an excellent way of making kids responsible for their actions. And developing good social skills. So is leading by example.
Just teaching to say sorry wont serve the purpose. This is what I would prefer my son to learn too, though he is too young and we are still learning emotions. I shall keep your post in mind, Happy Alexa
Thanks🙏Glad to hear that.
Exactly what we taught our little one. I think we get embroiled in socially accepted words way too sooner with kids these days. Nice Post!
I totaly agree. Glad we are on the same page.
Interesting way of making children care genuinely. I do have grandsons but they live across the world or else I would teach them this. Thanks for sharing. #wordsmithkaurreads #MyFriendAlexa #BlogChatter
Thanks. I’m happy to know you liked this idea.
its a best way to teach our kids at the small age a well picked topic .
Interesting points made. Will implement them.
Happy to hear that
A very nice point penned down by you. Yes kids don’t really empathize when they say sorry. We need to make them understand what sorry really means. Just loved your post and frankly this had never come to my mind. I think its time I start using this tips on my kid too.
I’m so happy to know that you found this helpful
Interesting and important aspects we sometimes miss!
Cant agree more. Sorry come to us so instantly that we have forgotten to understand the meaning of it. If our kids do something wrong then the instant reaction parents is say sorry and the kid follows that and get back to work but this is nt the correct approach. With time the kid learn to say sorry and job done. But empathy and caring for others, understanding other’s feelings and being responsive towards those feeling is more important.
Loved your thoughts about this topic.
Thank you so much Alpana for stopping by. I am so with you on this. Teaching kids about a strong emotion like Empathy is crucial. It would go a long way in raising compassionate kids.