At first blush, teaching kids to apologize seems simple. You instruct them to say sorry to whomever they wronged and you move on. But did your child only say sorry to appease you? Does your child really understand what they did wrong? Teaching kids to apologize with sincerity helps them learn lessons in empathy, nurturing and forgiveness. And given the messiness of life, those moments requiring apologies tend to be plentiful for practice.
Driving home, you ask your kids what happened at school today. Your son mumbles, “Nothing,” in his casual, I-dare-you-to-ask-for-more-information kind of way. Before you can follow up, your daughter chimes in, “I hate Maddie. She told Sarah she thinks my hair is ugly, and now Sarah won’t let me sit with them at lunch. They’re not my friends anymore. I hate them both.”
We’ve all seen it: the parent who stands on the sidelines criticizing the decisions made by coaches and officials; the one who yells at their own child when they make a mistake; the fan that hurls rude remarks to the opposing team; and the parent who always places blame. Some of us have even had the misfortune of witnessing brawls.
When it comes to raising children who are compassionate, gracious, and open-minded human beings, many parents seek to teach their children values of empathy, respect, and inclusiveness. Perhaps never before in recent history have these values been thrust more into the limelight than over the past few months, as we have watched a divisive election unfold south of the border. Through this political process, children have been exposed to a range of perspectives and narratives relating to kindness, respect, and how we choose to treat those we perceive as different from us. A public dissection of these values has increased the importance of parents proactively finding everyday opportunities to talk about these notions with children so that they become an intrinsic part of how children are raised in the world, and how they learn to navigate their experiences and interactions.
Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2017 Calgary’s Child