We’ve all been there… making a mistake that we needed to apologise for, or being asked to forgive someone whom we felt had wronged us. Both situations can be tricky to deal with as an adult, so how do we help guide children in giving apologies or granting forgiveness?
Situations that may need an apology occur regularly between children, whether it’s an accidental bump between brothers or getting upset with a friend who won a game. It’s easy to tell a child to apologise; they may think that all they need to do is say “sorry.”, which potentially leaves children thinking that they don’t need to be responsible for their actions beyond a one-word apology.
Rather surprisingly, helping children see the consequences of their actions is more likely to lead to learning. An example could look like this:
“You knocked Sophie down and she bumped her elbow. Look, she’s crying. I know you didn’t mean to hurt her, but what do you think you can do to help her feel better?”
Have the child who caused the accident, whether intentional or not, ask the hurt child if he or she wants a hug, or something else. By understanding the consequences of their actions and helping to fix the situation are key elements in helping children develop empathy for others.
Reading to your child when settling down for bedtime can help explain complex topics such as this – chapter 7 in the Bobby & Morph Collection can really help when it comes to forgiving after a falling out between friends.