Does this scene sound familiar?
Apologize to your sister!
I don’t wanna!
Say you’re sorry.
*eyeroll* iiiiiiii’m sorrrrrry…
Teaching kids how to make sincere apologies doesn’t have to be a struggle. Taking responsibility for your actions is a core leadership skill and making amends is only one part of the process. Helping your child understand their role in resolving conflict can empower them to apologize in a meaningful way to strengthen their relationship (yes, even with siblings!). Here’s how:
Acknowledge Everyone’s Feelings
At the moment when something goes wrong, it’s easy to slip right into what went wrong and who is to blame. This can lead to defensiveness and a situation where no one budges on the apology. This isn’t the time to force an apology, but give each person involved in the conflict some space to name and feel their emotions. Talking it out, writing, or drawing are some productive ways to express feelings.
Consider the Facts
After the intensity of strong emotions fade, encourage your child to reflect on the facts of what happened. If they caused harm to another person, they may be able to admit to it without shame or blame. This kind of self-reflection can lead to new insights about your child’s weaknesses, the need for a new personal goal, or personal boundaries that need to be created or enforced.
Meet in the Middle
Once your child has had a chance to reflect on the situation, everyone can come together for a discussion (or dance party!) to move on from the conflict. Your child may apologize on their own at this point, or you can gently encourage them to let the other person know that they recognize what went wrong and how feelings might have been hurt in the process.