Mind your P’s and Q’s
When we are young, we are taught about the importance of manners. “Please” and “thank you” are some of the first lessons we are given. We know it’s important to be polite; like our parents taught us, we teach this to our kids.
Please and thank you are great lessons, but what about sorry? We’re great at teaching our kids right vs. wrong, but are we teaching them to apologize? Are we teaching them to own up to their mistakes and make amends? Ideally, this is a great lesson to teach a kid alongside manners, but for whatever reason this is a practice that is often forgotten.
Lead by Example
It’s not news that kids learn by example. Our babies watch us fork food into our mouths, and eventually they learn how to do the same thing. Toddlers text and chat on their pretend cell phones, which is a behaviour they learn from watching us. One day our four year old might shout out one of those bad four letter words in the grocery store, which (we’ll never admit) they learned from us. So it only makes sense that a kid who knows when and how to apologize has seen their parents do the same multiple times. But what about the kid who has parents that have never made a mistake? *Cue eyeroll.*
It’s so easy to cover up our mistakes by saying things like “adults are allowed to do that,” or “Mommy was just frustrated.” Saying sorry means you have to admit you did something wrong first, which is hard to do when you’re trying to be a perfect parent. We don’t want our kids to see our mistakes, our flaws, our wrongs. We want to be perfect in their eyes. But is this really a healthy way to approach a child? If we put up this facade of perfection, what are we teaching them? That it’s not okay to make mistakes, to have flaws, or to do anything wrong? How insane is that?
Be Honest with your Child
Letting your child see your weaknesses is not a crime. But letting them watch you cover up those weaknesses and make excuses for them only teaches them to do the same. If you can’t admit to your child when you’ve made a mistake and apologize for it, how can you expect them to apologize for anything themselves?
If you mess up in front of your kid, say sorry. One thing I’ve learned from working with behaviourally challenging children is that even the meanest kid will forgive you. If you can open up to your child about your mistake, apologize, and move on – it does wonders for your relationship. They won’t be so scared to make mistakes in front of you, and they learn the importance of apologizing and forgiveness.
Teaching our children how to say sorry should be just as important as saying please and thank you. We want our children to be polite and well mannered, and we want them to be able to own up to their mistakes and learn from them. Remember guys, our children mirror our behaviours. They’re little sponges just waiting to soak up whatever knowledge we throw at them. So, please and thank you; say sorry.