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Purposeful Parenting

How to Say You’re Sorry

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How to Say You're Sorry | Purposeful Parenting | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide
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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.

How to Say You're Sorry | Purposeful Parenting | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide

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 Say You're Sorry | Purposeful Parenting | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Elizabeth

    August 13, 2014 at 11:25 am

    This is such an important skill! I almost forget because I have been working on this with my kids for a while. But, we can’t assume that they know how to do this. We need to teach emotional intelligence and social intelligence to our children, then model it as well. If we don’t apologize to our own children, they will not see it as an important skill. Thanks, Katy, another great post!

    • Katy Blevins

      August 13, 2014 at 11:38 am

      Thank you so much!! You are so right. It’s the modeling part that I struggle with most. And I do need to be more mindful to deliberately apologize to my children and set the standard.

  2. Agy

    August 16, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Saying “sorry” is so important, but unfortunately in some Asian cultures it is almost non-existent. Hopefully this is changing as we learn from others! thank you for sharing.

  3. Megan Walker

    August 17, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    This is great advice! So often people apologize when you know they don’t mean it, so this is an important skill to learn young.

    Thanks for sharing on Hump Day Happenings!

    • Katy Blevins

      September 1, 2014 at 8:15 am

      Yup. I find myself getting reminders to be better about my apologies when I consider whether or not I’m setting a good example for my kids.

  4. Tina Ernspiker

    September 20, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Good article! Thanks for sharing! I agree with your approach completely 🙂 #ibabloggers

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Purposeful Parenting

How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child’s Cues

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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please refer to my Legal Policies and Terms of Use. The opinions here are entirely my own. 
How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child's Cues - Infographic

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.

My system certainly isn’t perfect, and my kids give new meaning to the word tantrum (I have one that goes “no bones, limp baby, immovable and impossible to catch” and one that goes “cement block that weighs a bazillion pounds and can’t be bended, lifted and/or manipulated in any fashion,” with both adding crazy decibel, ear-splitting screams to boot). At some point in the insanity, I learned to anticipate the meltdown.
My husband and I can spot a meltdown coming from a mile away. We’ll give the other that “It’s time to go. Stat. Grab the kids and sprint. NOW. Forget your shoes! Leave them! Run!” look and as the rest of the human race looks on in bewildered dismay, we quickly head for the hills before things get ugly. I think we have our exit down to about 46 seconds these days (58 if I get to grab my shoes).
On a day-to-day basis, I’ve developed a couple of tricks that stave off most meltdowns. IF I’m paying attention. This is where the understanding your child’s cues part comes in to play. You have to catch the cue before it’s too late. “Practice makes perfect” is the phrase of the day here. Or is “trial through fire” more resonant? In any event, here are my go to lifesavers:

1. Mini Baby Blanket with Attachment Loop – Cold is the enemy. Nothing brings on the whine, which brings on the frustration, which brings on the ultimate refusal to act like a normal human being like frigid weather. I was lugging around blankets to tuck the kids in to their car seats (Remember to avoid bulky coats when strapping kiddos in!) and they were getting tossed, dropped, forgotten, you name it. Then I realized my mother-in-law had given us these super cute sensory blankets with a loop that could attach to a stroller and the light bulb went off. I strapped both blankets to the side of each car seat (they are small and hang to the side if unused, so unobtrusive and the loop is short and sweet, so no wrapping around anything else) and they’re always there when I need them. The link above is one of many Etsy shops that make these small wonders, and ours are even sports themed, so the husband is happy.
2. Baby Sign Language – I admit to being one of those people that eye-rolled the idea of baby sign language when I was pregnant. Never gave it a second thought until my kids starting screaming for reasons that I couldn’t seem to identify. A friend suggested I take a jab at it, and purely out of desperation, I did, still with a bit of attitude and skepticism. And then the boys started signing back. HALLELUJAH! We did only the basics – “More, All Done, Hungry, Please, Thank You” – and that opened up whole new worlds for us in communication. Not only were they excited to sign and overjoyed that I knew what the heck was going on, but I was immensely relieved and didn’t feel like Failure Parent of the Century. Big win. I eat my humble pie proudly. I was an idiot to think this was lame.
3. Snacks at the Ready – Baby Cooler – If cold is the enemy, hunger is the Antichrist. I’d say a good 50% of the time, the boys’ tantrums stem from being hungry. We’re usually in transition to our next meal when the tank slips below E. Low fuel = channeling Satan. And the perfect timing for this special little stream of insanity was pick up from day care. The kids were tired and spent and ready for dinner. Like, 5 minutes before I got there. The first words I heard daily were “Mommy! I need my milk! Hungry!” They were whining, crying, going all sorts of Apocalyptic on me because the last thing they wanted was to be strapped into their car seats for the ride home. They wanted to be teleported straight to the dinner table. I got tired of this daily warfare, especially at the end of my own long day at work, so I started packing snacks and milk in this convenient little cooler (which as an aside, a friend gave me with the promise that it would be one of the most handy baby items I received – she was right). It gets stashed in the community kitchen at work and I grab it on my way out the door each evening. Every morning, I repack and head off knowing that I’ve crossed one tantrum off the list for that day. Yay me.Insert random cuteness here…I mean seriously, people, how can these children have meltdowns that rival the End of Days?

Photos Courtesy of Somer Anne Photography

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.

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Purposeful Parenting

How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child’s Cues

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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.

What was I doing wrong? Who were these little hellions and where were those
sweet kids from day care?
Purposeful Parenting - How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child's Cues Purposeful Parenting - How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child's Cues

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.” 

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Emily Speaks

11 Alternatives to Self Harm: Emily Speaks

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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. 

11 Alternatives to Self-Harm: Emily Speaks


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. 

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