Sorry…Is all that you can say!

The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word ‘sorry’ is a picture of Boyzone singing the song – “Sorry…is all that I can say.. years gone by and still..words don’t come easily!” Okay, jokes apart, ‘sorry’ is one of the most misused word. Misused because, it is used when it least matters and is absent from the vocabulary when the need truly arises.

Toddlers and Sorry do not and should not go together
For children till about three years of age, ‘sorry’ literally has no relevance. They are free spirited individuals and expecting them to be apologetic for their action in their formative years is not that great an idea. In the book, You are Your Child’s First Teacher, Rahima Baldwin Dancy shares –  With the preschool-age child, you need to correct and demonstrate the right behavior again and again, but you cannot expect children to remember it. Their memories simply aren’t that mature yet. This aptly accentuates the fact that teaching your child to apologise for his behavior and say a ‘sorry’ is an effort you can spare yourself from.

Children learn by imitation. So, if there are instances where you see them doing something that deserves an apology from them, retrospection from our end is needed to things they are being exposed to.

Demonstrate
Saying a sorry for petty things comes easy. The difficult part is being sorry for hurting someone emotionally. And by emotionally, we mean – being rude, being nasty, being brattish, being unreasonable, being stubborn etc. To ensure you teach your child to respect the feelings of others; use ‘sorry’ each time you have an emotional outbreak. And let us be honest, we all. And the scapegoat more often than not would be our children. Once your flying temper has landed safely to its shore, go to your child. Apologise for your behavior. Tell him that you were wrong in yelling at him and you very well understood that it was not his fault at all hence you are ‘sorry’ for only thinking about yourself. The moment your child understands that behavior affects people and makes them hurt others, apologizing for him when need arises, shall not be a struggle. The ‘sorry’ for him then will be a sense of realisation of his mistake.

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Read Stories
For Vineeta, it was being a constant struggle to make her son Anuj apologise for being unreasonable with his friends at the park and walking over if his stubbornness met with any resistance. This was exactly the behavior being displayed by his father – Shirish at home. Anuj had never seen his father apologise for being rude at home or while driving. For Anuj, being rude was ‘okay’. Vineeta could not change Shirish’s behavior but she was sure she did not want Anuj to display this kind of a behavior. To do this, Vineeta began with stories of children who would misbehave and how they were left alone with no friends, of how fairies and angels chose to ignore children who refrained from saying sorry’ and ensuring that mistakes were not repeated. Anuj gradually started relating to the central character of the stories  that Vineeta would narrate and there was a visible change in his behavior.

Silence is Golden
If a situation arises where you find your child not saying sorry  as a result of his stubbornness, the best solution here is to keep silent till you hear the word ‘sorry’ from him. Each time he reaches to you to ask you something, show complete ignorance and interrupt him mid-way saying – I am waiting to hear Anuj (or whatever the child’s name is) say a sorry. Children can take anything but being left there on. The message that silence can have is far better than the best of words put together.

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Reprimanding is not a solution when the end result is to have a sorry from a child who really does not understand the meaning of the word. As parents, we need to pass on a message to our children that wrong actions need correction and not just an easy escape with a mere utterance of ‘sorry’.

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