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Why We Don’t Say Sorry

The hardest part of parenting, for me, is the disciplining. If I could go months without having to do it I would be one happy mama. The truth is every second of every day is a learning experience for me and my kiddos. As parents, our jobs are to mold these tiny humans into polite, caring, and smart individuals. We teach them from day one what is right and what is wrong.

Without hesitation, they learn that sorry is the keyword to escape any sticky situation. Maybe we start by asking them to say sorry for taking a siblings toy without asking. Or we ask for an apology for misbehavior. However, it gets started it soon becomes an empty gesture. Not on purpose, but because they are constantly testing the limits and pushing buttons, the word starts to flow out of their mouths like word vomit. Their cute little faces scrunch up and we take their word, we take their apologies.

But if you’re like me you are so done with the word sorry. I tell them not to say it unless they truly mean it. So now we are learning by example and with actions.

Four Ways We Lend Action to the Word Sorry:

  1. When we say, “I know I took that toy without asking and it upset you, I won’t do it again. Next time I will ask first!” We take responsibility for what we did and can add an action plan. This makes things more tangible for them.
  2. Consequences are important. Teaching them that with every cause there is an effect. Our actions create situations for ourselves, and for those around us. Thinking first about what we are doing, why, and how we can look at the bigger picture is a great lesson for life. If you take something without asking, if you misbehave, if you lie…there are consequences. You will lose screen time, or maybe we decide not to go on an outing. Which means other people lose out on potential fun.
  3. Instead of blurting out sorry I have my children sit down and write it out. They answer a few questions like, why did you (insert reason they are being talked with), did it help anyone, did it hurt someone, why are you sorry? Asking them to think about these things helps put everything into perspective just a bit. Instead of only thinking of ourselves we need to take the time to think about others, too. This exercise engages that issue.
  4. When all else fails I try to remember they are young and these abstract feelings and emotions are difficult to grasp. Sometimes giving them quiet time to reflect on what they did, why it is not okay to mistreat people, and how they can treat others with more respect is all that is needed.

At the end of the day, we are all trying our very best to parent our children. I am no expert but I know that if I can teach them to love and respect themselves and others then I am doing something right.

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2 Responses to Why We Don’t Say Sorry

  1. Suzanne Hines September 15, 2018 at 2:23 pm #

    Love this perspective so much! It’s so true that we just say it out of habit SO OFTEN. I also recently heard the tip to stop the kids in the moment (as much as possible) and say “Look at his face. How do you think he is feeling?” Since kids are so self-focused they aren’t really thinking about how the other might feel, but looking at their face might help them get in touch with the others emotions and realize how they made the other person feel!

    • Elizabeth Fritz
      Elizabeth Fritz September 16, 2018 at 8:27 pm #

      Yes. It becomes so common just to say it and leave it at that. I know a few people who implement that as well. Asking the child to think about how the other may be feeling. To face the situation head on and navigate through it. It’s a great way to get them to stop and see past themselves.Thanks so much for the comment Suzanne.

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