As parents, we often make the assumption that our children are picking up on the “obvious stuff” along the way. In the chaos of daily life, we leap into generalizations and force expectations on them when they may not understand why or what we mean. A good example of this is learning how to say you’re sorry. We’re quick to force our kids to deliver a half-hearted apology with “You say you’re sorry right now!” as punishment for wrongdoing, but do we ever take the time to explain how you do this properly and why it is important when it comes to life and the people around you? And let’s really be honest, are we great examples of how to say you’re sorry for our children? I know I’m not. I bet we often need the same reminders. Instilling empathy and awareness for one’s conscience is invaluable for a quality life with fulfilled relationships. Here are a few tips for teaching your children how to say you’re sorry and mean it.
The most important thing to remember is DO NOT teach your children to say sorry just because you told them to. Don’t force it! Coughing up a hurried “Sorry” with a grumpy face, annoyed voice, and general discontent with the overall expectation makes an apology meaningless for everyone involved. The “wrong-doer” doesn’t claim responsibility for their actions and realize they caused hurt to someone else, so they are extremely likely to repeat the behavior in the future. The “victim” still feels hurt and devalued that no one has empathized with their pain or acknowledged that they shouldn’t have been treated that way, so they walk away even more hurt.
That’s not to say that delivering the apology just shouldn’t happen if they don’t mean it. It’s simply a matter of introducing some thought and self-review into the scenario. Instead of forcing the immediate apology in the heat of the moment, try saying “Child of mine (insert name please…ha), that behavior (describe specifically) is not okay because it hurt somebody (insert name) in this way (insert why). That’s not how we treat people in this family. If you’re feeling this way (insert emotion), you should do this (describe specifically) instead.”
If they look immediately repentant, let them go ahead and say they are sorry. If they are still stuck in the moment and angry, try saying “I can see that you’re not ready to say sorry yet. Why don’t you take a moment to sit down over here (time out spot) and think about what happened and why you should say sorry to help (insert name) feel better about what happened. Let me know when you’re ready.”
When they are ready to apologize, make sure you’ve gone through the proper steps to say you’re sorry:
- Look the person in their eyes
- Use a clear voice that they can hear
- Tell them you’re sorry for (insert whatever was done)
- Say what you should have done instead
- Hug it out (or give them space if they need it)
Going through this more meaningful process shows value to the “victim,” but more importantly, educates your children about appropriate behavior, taking responsibility for themselves, and showing concern and care for others. Any opportunity to instill strong communication skills in your children, especially when it comes to tense moments, should be taken to the fullest extent. Never assume they understand the why behind the what. They covet your wisdom (even when they act like they don’t want it!) and they look to you to help them understand their place in the world. Learning how to say you’re sorry is a very important piece of that journey and one we should all be careful not to overlook.
How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Duh, duh, duh….the dreaded meltdown. With one kid, this can bring the strongest mommy to her knees. With multiples, well…the word “epic” takes on a completely new meaning. In the worst possible way.
Moral of the story? A little organization and forethought can go a long way. Considering WHY my kids were throwing tantrums and then exploring what I could do to prevent them before they started has saved me a million tears. Like I said, it’s not a perfect system. But every little bit helps.
How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Every day I pick up my children from day care to hear “They are such great kids! They had a blast today and are some of the best listeners we’ve ever had. They’re so well-behaved!” Yay, Mama win! And then we go home and they act like total demon-infested, hell-raising psychos and won’t listen to a word I say. Weekends can be brutal and I sometimes find myself praising Jesus that I decided to keep working and not stay-at-home.
sweet kids from day care?
Best Thing I Ever Did: I went to pick the kids up one day and they were enjoying themselves, so I decided to just sit and watch for a bit and let them play. Funny thing happened. I started listening to how the day care teachers communicated with my children and how they responded. And the light bulb went off. I don’t know how to speak the language my kids understand.
I started listening harder. And then I came back the next day and did it again. Now, every time I drop off or pick up, I listen. How are they talking to my kids? What are they saying? How are the kids responding? And then I mimick it at home.
Major win!!! My kids are starting to see an extension of their daily routine back into the home and it’s making sense. I say certain words they’re used to hearing and like magic, they listen. Not every time (which I suspect also happens at day care), but the majority of time. Major improvement. We are starting to speak the same language.
Sometimes I forget (or refuse to admit) that I am not my children’s primary care provider. For those of us that work outside the home, most often our kids spend the majority of their time somewhere other than with us. Sometimes, being reminded of that hurts. A lot. But truth is, they develop routines, cues and references that we’re not familiar with. We need to learn the language they are used to hearing every day so that we can communicate our needs in a way they understand. I need to speak my children’s language.
Phrase Adjustments that Worked for Me:
- “Walk away please” instead of “No!” or “Don’t Touch!”
- “Are you using your listening ears?” instead of “Listen to me!”
- “I’m going to go to work for awhile, but Mommies always come back!” instead of “Say bye to Mommy. I have to go to work.”
11 Alternatives to Self Harm: Emily Speaks
If you’re just connecting with the Emily Speaks series, be sure to check out her first post, Cyber Bullying and Self-Harm, to catch up. Today, Emily will be sharing 11 alternatives to self harm to help those hurting to make healthier choices to cope with emotional struggles.
I know it can be hard not to self-harm if you’re being bullied, but you need to try to think of other ways to deal with the pain. Cutting leaves angry scars on your body. You should try to deal with your hurt in other ways. Here are 11 good examples that will hopefully help you out a little bit.
1. Try talking to somebody about what’s going on so that you can get it out of your system.
2. Go outside where nobody is around and just scream as loud as you can for as long as you want.
3. Take a rubber band and keep it on your wrist so whenever you feel like cutting you can just take that rubber band and snap it on your wrist (softly – not to where it harms you).
4. Get an old teddy bear or stuffed animal that you don’t want and take your anger out on that.
5. Go on a jog or go out and ride your bike or long board or whatever you have and just ride around to calm yourself down.
6. Go hang out with your friend(s) and get your mind off things that would make you want to cut or do anything else to harm yourself.
7. Sleep it out and take a long nap and see how you’re feeling when you wake up.
8. Go hang out with your family and just relax.
9. Listen to some music.
10. Read a book.
11. Get an art journal and draw out your feelings. You can paint, draw pictures, even just scribble hard.
These are some of the ways that I stop myself from cutting, because I do still think about it when things get rough. When that happens, I try to do these instead and it helps. It does! You need to do anything that would take your mind off of any bad thoughts you are having and make you want to hurt yourself. This might not be the best list of ideas, but if you take a chance and try them out, they might end up working for you. You’re not only helping yourself, but you’re helping everyone else around you by making a better choice to not self-harm.