Saying “I’m sorry” can be a difficult thing to do – even for adults. It means admitting that you did something wrong and taking responsibility for it. Often, especially online, kids don’t see that certain things require an earnest apology. Vicky Mlyniec from parents.com states: [the child] learns how to undo his mistakes, take responsibility for his actions, and consider others’ feelings. Apologizing actually makes kids more social.
Apologizing is, in fact, at its core a social construct – by living in a society we agree that certain things can be right or wrong and that we need to act accordingly to be well adjusted and to be a part of a bigger picture. And as such, different cultures and traditions may require different approaches to apologizing. One thing remains the same, though: it needs to be taught. And it’s a process.
DOs and DON’Ts
Guilting kids into apologizing after they have done something reproachful or insensitive isn’t the best option. Very often they might not even realize that what they did was in fact wrong. It gets even trickier online – when you can’t see the person you offended, intentionally or not, it might not even occur to them that they’ve hurt someone. You can’t really see the face and hear the tone of the voice and you don’t want to publicly draw attention to yourself – that you did something that wasn’t nice.
Many parents have also learnt that forcing an apology isn’t the best solution either – it might even cause resentment. It’s always good to talk about the situation after the fact, when both parties (the parents and the child) are in a different mental state – calmer and not guided by powerful emotions. It’s much easier to understand the other person and it gives space for reflection and dialogue.
The best way to teach kids to apologize is to do it yourself – be a good example they can follow and look up to. We always try to talk to Momio users and try to make them realize what they did. And when we make a mistake, we always apologize to them. Setting a positive example is a great way of showing that apologizing is not something to be ashamed of.
How does it look at your home? How did you show your child that apologizing for being wrong is a good thing?