Why is saying “I’m sorry” so dang hard, y’all? We see it in our kids almost daily. Sara takes little Kevin’s toy right out of his hands. Kevin then tries to ninja chop Sara because, well- toddler anger ain’t no joke. You confiscate toy and make Sara apologize for taking toy without asking, and Kevin has to apologize for the attempted murder. Neither party seems super pumped to apologize. In fact, in my house at least, there’s often balking at the idea that something was even done to require an apology because “He started it!” or “I had that FIRST!“.
If kids have a hard time apologizing, turn the prideful awkwardness level up a few notches when adults apologize to one another (which isn’t near as often as they should, by the way) and, the wheels are off when and adult apologizes to their gasp, child. This idea of admitting that you’ve wronged or hurt someone, especially when it’s one of those tiny humans who you love with your whole heart, is hard to swallow. So instead of apologizing, we often carry on or make an excuse as to why we did it to make ourselves feel better. One of my goals this year is to really be mindful of showing my kids what repentance in relationships looks like by walking it out in my own life and you guys it’s hard!
We all mess up, right? Our kids make mistakes on the regular because they are learning and testing boundaries and trying to see if mommy will actually sell them to the zoo. We make mistakes because our kids are learning and were trying to do our best with the mom-ing and wife-ing and friend-ing and working and volunteering. Sometimes we drop the ball because even Superman has to be Clark Kent sometimes, right? We try so hard to teach our kids to speak kindly and respectfully, but often don’t offer them the same courtesy. I’m so quick to remind my kids not to yell at me for something from across the room “We don’t yell at people, you walk up to them and ask them for what you need”, but when my 3 year old is intently playing trains and I need him to wash his hands for dinner I forget that my legs work and it’s “Griffin, wash your hands. Griffin. GRIFFIN! HELLO?!?!“.
We’re constantly working on apologizing in our home. It starts with us as parents. What are we modeling for our kids? We are the front line of learning for them. They hear what we say, and see what we do. I feel like I often have to check myself where I think “I have all of these expectations of my kids but am I modeling those same standards in my own life?” Does every little thing require an apology? No, but as a mom you know when your relationship with your kid’s little hearts needs an “I’m sorry”.
When an apology happens in our house I like to use these 3 little phrases to help my kids (and me!) keep our hearts in the right place.
Apologies are sincere. We apologize because we’ve hurt someone or broken trust and we apologize because it’s the 1st step to reconciling that relationship.
Apologies are for you to own your stuff. Don’t make excuses and don’t try to blame others.
Apologies lose their value when you don’t try to do better. You can only say sorry for doing something so many times before the other party no longer believes you.
No one is perfect which is why it’s vital to our relationship with our kids to be able to recognize when we have wronged someone, and are able to reconcile the relationship by apologizing.