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Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  15 Oct 2018 7:43 AM GMT

By: Dr. Gayatri Bezboruah

“Oh no, you’ve done it again. Go and say sorry”, “Say sorry at once, you naughty child,” “Why don’t you just say sorry?” “You say sorry a hundred times a day, but you still don’t learn.” Well, that’s a good package of armaments we carry and use many times a day and probably for many years as our little ones are growing up. The truth is – we want our children to learn to use the great word “SORRY” whenever and wherever needed with the right feeling at the right volume. Yes, let’s accept a universal truth.

Child experts feel our kids shouldn’t be forced to say “sorry” when they do something wrong. However, that doesn’t mean they should be off the hook either. We should take the opportunity to teach our children about why the behaviour was wrong and about good manners at the same time. Forcing our little ones to say sorry after they bite or hit another child, or when they break a friend’s toy, for example, simply forces a lame, insincere “sorry” statement without changing any behaviour. So, what should we parents and do? Perhaps it will help if we rememberthat we should use opportunity to teach our children ‘Why’ we are asking for an apology.

Let us start by using the bad behaviour as a teaching moment. It is believed that getting children to think about what they have done wrong, why it was wrong, and the impact the behaviour had on the other child is the best way to approach the situation. After giving them time to think about it, then we should ask what they can do about it to make the wrong right. And, if they simply suggest saying sorry or giving a hug, well, then it was their idea and it will certainly be more heartfelt!

It is important to label the behaviour as wrong. We would perform an injustice if we don’t simply and plainly spell out that the behaviour was wrong. If not, we’ve reinforced to the little ones that bad behaviour doesn’t really matter and won’t necessarily have any consequences in the long run. Just saying sorry will become their antidote to get out of things that shouldn’t be done, instead of understanding that the act was bad and should not be repeated.

We must remember to talk about feelings... a lot! At a preschool age, our kids are beginning to learn about empathy, and feelings often run strong. When they learn that their actions caused another child to feel sad or mad, for example, it can have a greater impact than just “getting in trouble”. Our role should be to help them to understand, first, that their actions caused another child to get hurt (either physically or emotionally), and then, begin the process of having them accept responsibility and feel accountable for their own actions.

We should partner on teaching the reason behind “sorry”. Good communication is a way to help our little ones on the path to understanding the reason behind feeling the way they do, and of being sorry. Consistency needs to be applied whether our children are at home with us or in the care of a provider. Consistent discipline and discussion lets them better understand that there are rules and when broken, there are consistent consequences.

And then the most important thing – we need to be sure to show love at the same time. Never let them feel unloved for doing something wrong. Remember the old adage “I love you; just not your behavior!”

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