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Modeling Forgiveness - Going Beyond 'I'm Sorry!'

Posted on 09-12-2014 | Kids 'R' Kids Learning Academies of West Frisco & Legacy West


At some point during the day parents have to wear the hat of referee and help children work through a conflict. “She started it!” “He pushed me!” are phrases that echo in every living room and playground. Most often we will instruct the children to look at each other and say ‘I’m sorry!’ before allowing them to continue on with their day. However, many children will use the words ‘I’m sorry’ as an easy way to move on from the conflict without ever addressing the problem with their behavior. It’s important to teach them that sincere apologies are followed by an effort to change the hurtful behavior.

Pay attention to how soon your child says ‘I’m sorry’ after the incident. When children say ‘I’m sorry’ very quickly and then immediately move on, they neglect to acknowledge the hurt they caused. It’s very likely they have only learned the words and don’t understand what the words mean. In these cases the child will likely repeat the offending behavior, according to psychologist and author Dr. Sal Severe.

Another key element to teaching a child about forgiveness is for parents to model it with their children. When you apologize to your child be sure to be specific in what you’re sorry for and efforts you will take to not repeat the behavior in the future. This will teach your child about sincerity and show them that ‘I’m sorry’ is followed by an effort to be kinder or more patient in the future. When parents model this to children, it’s more likely the child will begin to mimic the behavior when interacting with other children and adults. Keep in mind that when you seek forgiveness from your child you need to resist the temptation to give them excuses or reasons for why you did what you did. Justifying our mistakes will teach our kids to do the same, owning our mistakes will give them a healthy perspective on how to interact with others when we are in the wrong.

Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies of West Frisco & Legacy West understands the delicacy of conflict and the importance of using conflict as a teachable moment for the children in our care. We are passionate about developing the next generation to be kind, respectful, and contributing members of our community! We also believe in partnering with parents to work together in shaping, teaching, and loving on every little learner. Contact us today about scheduling a tour and meeting our exceptional teaching team!

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