Making it Right (when kids fight)

Let’s talk about helping our kids say sorry. (This is last week’s post on sibling rivalry continued.)

Too often I see parents making their kids apologize.

“SAY SORRY!” I’ll hear them say.

I used to do that as well. But I learned that it doesn’t help my kids to “make” them apologize.

If a child is forced to apologize, it is highly likely that they are just going though the motions to appease a parent or avoid further conflict or punishments.

I do not want my kids to apologize for those reasons.

I want them to apologize because they actually feel sorry.

I want them to regret wrong decisions.

I want them to resolve to do better in the future.

I want them to have empathy for the other person.

I want them to know that they have the capability to be kind.

I want them to WANT to be kind.

Me forcing them to apologize doesn’t do any of those things... so I don’t force them anymore.

When conflict happens, I follow the steps outlined in my previous two posts on sibling rivalry, and then I guide my children through apologizing by focusing on 6 things.

Make it Right

  1. Apologize

  2. Speak truth

  3. Future focus

  4. Express empathy

  5. Ask what you can do

  6. Request forgiveness

This list might seem long, and it is when you consider that many parents only focus on step 1, but all 6 of these items increase love, build trust, acknowledge imperfections, and leave both parties involved feeling empowered.

So take the time to understand each step!

(Also, even if you don’t go through all 6 steps each time, understanding the difference between them is useful in order to help problem spot when conflicts arise, so let’s talk about each...)

1. Apologize

Instead of just saying sorry, say what you are sorry for.

This is the basic “I am sorry” taken to a higher level.

Be specific in acknowledging what it is that you did wrong.

“I am sorry that I __________.” (Hit you, took your toy, yelled at you, didn’t come when I was called, etc.)

2. Speak Truth

Say what you believe.

See my previous post, step 3 for specifics.

It might be something such as:

I love you. I am glad you are my brother. I know you are learning. We all make mistakes sometimes. I know that I am not perfect. I still have a lot to learn.

This will cause a powerful effect in your kids. Hearing their sibling say what they believe softens hearts.

3. Future Focus

Speak what you want to have happen next time.

This is important because we create what we think is possible.