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On-Site Staff / Opinion / Partnerships and Building Relationships



When you ask a young person to apologize, they often scowl at you with an attitude. They may glare at you and roughly say,” Why should I apologize, I didn’t do anything wrong.” We all know that owning our mistakes is not only a challenge for children but for adults as well.

Apprehension to apologizing relates to our fear of permanently ruining our public self-image.

Surprisingly, avoiding owning our slip-ups can backfire on us. We all make mistakes, but it is crucial to teach children how to respond, restore, and mend fences.

Frequently, children become defensive to counteract their feels of embarrassment.

1) they are trying to avoid the feeling of shame. In addition to feeling shame, children often duck taking responsibility. This leads us to number 2) they are charged with a sense of guilt. Children and adults do not want the result of their actions to be met with “The cold shoulder” from our friends or loved ones.

I believe talking with children and helping them understand the importance of apologizing is very vital. Helping them understand that we all make mistakes, giving them the language and tools that will help assist them to embrace the steps in the apology process.

Let’s look at a sample child-friendly apology letter:

“Dear Kaela, I am sorry for calling you a meanie. I know that it was wrong. I did probably make you feel sad and not wanted as a part of our group. I will think before I say not nice things again. Next time I will try my best not to be mean again. Will you accept my apology?”

Below are questions that can also be included before they write the apology letter. It will help the students think about how their actions affected someone else.

  • What did you do that hurt their feelings?
  • How do you think they were feeling before you did something to hurt them?
  • What is something you can do differently next time?

Here are a few elements of a genuine apology, they can be shared with kids AND adults:

  • Be Sincere
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Don’t blame the other person
  • Allow them to share their feelings
  • Honestly try to change your behaviors

I’ve taught lessons on how to make an apology several times to little ones, but I wonder if they were effective. I noticed that I had to get to the bare bones of why apologizing is essential. I told them, saying sorry and meaning it is the fastest way of restoring friendships. Also, helping kids change a lousy choice into a learnable moment builds character and empathy.

What tips can you share with your staff to help our kids learn the value of a great apology?

For breakfast, I had OJ and a chicken biscuit. 

Author: @tiana-brown

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