Children are born as empathetic beings, who love and understand others around them. Often trying to fix something at any cost, I used to lose sight of things and rushed. The most obvious example of this is an apology.
I have always wanted to teach my children to recognise and understand different types of emotions, both in themselves and in others. I wanted to raise a child who respects and appreciates other person’s time, body, personality, space, and possession. An empathetic child who understands why it is wrong to hurt others in any way. A child honest in his words and in his heart, towards himself and towards others. I wanted all of this from my children, but I did not think that they can achieve all of that by themselves.
Many parents sooner or later become concerned about their children’s behaviour. Although it may seem that they have gotten out of control, there are methods that can help your child learn and feel the magic word “sorry.”
I would definitely agree that toddlers should not be forced to say “sorry” when they do something wrong. I have learned that very quickly. However, this does not mean that children should be completely free in their everyday behavior. Adults should teach children why something they did is not good, and at the same time give them a lesson in manners. For example, forcing a child to say “sorry” after striking or biting another child, forces an unconvincing and insincere “sorry”, after which their behaviour will not change.
Experts have different views, but I generally agree that it is best when you give your children space to think what is wrong with what they did, why it is bad, and how it has affected the other child or person. After giving them some time to think, ask them what they would do to change the situation. If a kid just offers an apology or a hug, then that’s his own idea, and it’s certainly honest. Parents often think that some children’s procedures are immediate and will not happen again. However, if you remain silent, you are letting the child know that what he or she is doing is not so important and that there will necessarily be no consequences.
At preschool, children will begin to learn about empathy, and those feelings are often very strong. When a child learns that his or her actions have made another child feel sad or angry, for example, it can have a greater impact on him or her than any punishment. The role of the adult should be to help the child understand, first, that his or her behavior has caused the other child to feel unwell (either physically or emotionally) and then to accept responsibility and to feel responsible for their actions.
Good communication with kindergarten educators is extremely important. I was applying certain lessons and teaching methods to my children at home, and I thought it would be a good idea to inform the kindergarten teacher about this. That way, I was sure that my children are in good hands even when I am not present.
I learned that it takes confidence and it takes time. All the courtesy words my children learned, they learned by observing and following my example: words such as thank you, goodbye, good afternoon. I never said that he and she should persecute the elderly, so they always did it infallibly because they have listened to and learned from me. So it is with the word “sorry”. How often does a child hear us say that? How often do we apologise to others when we mess up? Are we the parents who keep our backs and represent ourselves as infallible, or do we allow ourselves to show our humanity, and weaknesses in front of our children? In acknowledging our mistakes, we tell the child that it is OK to go wrong and admit it. Appearing to be perfect, we indirectly tell him that mistakes are not allowed to them.
One more word of advice: Never let your child feel disturbed when they do something wrong. Remember the old saying, “I love you, but I don’t like your behaviour”.