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Teach your child how to say (and feel) sorry

By Dhrubaa Ghosh,

Apologising is tough for many kids. Here are some tips to make it easier for them.

It is important to teach kids to be empathetic and feel sorry, instead of merely saying it.

When kids break rules or offend others, we want them to apologize. But they often won’t (or can’t) say sorry. Or maybe mumble “I’m sorry” without putting any thought into what happened. So how can you teach kids to apologize and actually mean it? Now teach kids to give a genuine apology by using the word SORRY, using each letter as a step. 

S means standing up 
Stand up means facing what the kid has done. Even children need to see that harm was done. It’s not always easy to get kids do it. But if you ask them open-ended questions, kids will own up to it and also apologise. It’s also better than blaming them. Let them confess.  

O is for owning the consequence 
Once kids have confessed, let them accept their role as the wrong doer. Something bad didn’t happen on its own. They are responsible. This is a positive exercise, since they will also say their reason for acting badly.  

R stands for a different response  
Next, help your child to think what else might have been done. Could the mistake be avoided? Can they avoid it in future? They may face the same situation, but they will react or respond differently to it the next time.  

R is for repairing what’s done 
Putting a broken glass together is not possible, but it’s possible to make an effort to be more careful. The failed test is over, but the next one can be tackled better. Repairing damage is the best way to move forward in life and learn through mistakes.  

Y is for yielding to others too 
Part of a genuine apology is dropping the expectation that others will forgive right away. It may be hard for kids to digest, but it will prepare them for the real world, where they have to yield to others, grant them their right to be disappointed, sad, angry or hurt when harmed 

This is easy to remember but not easy to practice. A change may not happen immediately, but get your kid started.