Apologising is one of the oldest rituals in the world. It improves the world a little as it increases empathy levels and helps repair interpersonal ties. Almost all of us have been told that saying ‘sorry’ without meaning it is of little to no value. Yet, we often expect children to say sorry without understanding what being sorry is all about.
In this article, we will cover:
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Research suggests that there are six components to an effective apology. They are as follows:
A book by Joe Carter, The Life and Faith Field Guide for Parents, mentions a four-point format for helping children apologise correctly.
Children often say “I am sorry” because an adult asked them to say it. They do not always understand why they are apologising. In this step, your child can state the reason for saying sorry. It will help your child understand why they are apologising.
Children often do not understand how their actions affect others. In this step, they can put themselves in the other person’s shoes. It helps them understand how they made others feel and is likely to increase their empathy levels.
This is the part very few people include in their apology. This part encourages them to find different more constructive ways of resolving their problems. It will also help them understand what to do if such situations occur later.
The last step is to ask for forgiveness. It allows the other person to share what is on their mind. It also ensures that this behaviour does not impact the long-term relationship.
The complete apology looks like this:
Apologies become necessary when one does something that hurts others, and children may not always possess the social skills to determine when that happens. Just like everything else we teach our children the art of apology also needs to be taught.
You can also stick this printable poster at home to help children remember how to say sorry. It will help you reinforce the structure of apologizing until your child internalizes it.
Do you agree that we need to teach children how to apologise? Why? Why not?
Let us know in the comments below.
Lewicki, R.J., Polin, B. and Lount, R.B., Jr. (2016), An Exploration of the Structure of Effective Apologies. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 9: 177-196. DOI: 10.1111/ncmr.12073
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