Even kids understand this. How many of us have told our kids to go apologize? What normally is their reaction? They look down, speak softly, put their hand in their mouth, or, if they are like my boy, just says sorry really fast and proceeds kicking the ball, while the child he hurt is still lying on the ground crying.
For good parents, this is where we step in. We tell them to look up, speak louder, take their hands out of their month, and at lest attempt to mean it. We do this because we understand as parents that cultivating character in our children is important.
This type of training is important but has limits. What is also needed is for them to see humility and remorse in those that they look up to—i.e., you.
That’s right. If you want your children to learn how to say sorry and really mean it, then you are going to have to model it for them. And one of the ways to model humility and remorse is by you saying sorry to them when you’ve wronged them.
Here are 9 things your children learn when you say sorry:
1) That adults make mistakes
2) There is a standard of morality above adults (you are also held accountable)
3) Teaches them to own up to their faults
4) Teaches them the way to say sorry
5) Teach them that authority can’t do whatever they please—i.e., might doesn’t equal right
6) Models humility to them
7) Teaches them not to cover up their wrong doings
8) Teaches them to not be stubborn when wrong
9) Teaches them how to forgive
So here’s the question that you need to ask yourself: when is the last time you apologized to your kids? And by the way, buying or spoiling your kids after you do something wrong is not an apology. You’re just teaching your children they can be bought. Saying you’re sorry is an apology. It’s fine to take your children out for ice cream, but first say your sorry and reconcile with them. Then ice cream is a joy you both can partake in.
It doesn’t matter the age either. Saying sorry to a teenager teaches him or her that adults are not necessarily hypocrites.
Did you yell when you didn’t have too? Apologize.
Where you too harsh? Apologize.
Where you lazy today and ignored your kids? Apologize.
Did you not follow through with a promise? Apologize.
We all want our kids to be humble and empathic to others. Start modeling this behavior yourself.