Parenting is a tough gig and there are no manuals that teach the exact way to do something, ensuring that the same technique works every single time for every single kind of child and family. You want to know why? Because our execution has a lot do with it. Our children are as unique as we are and our parenting styles and approaches are equally varied. This is why I firmly believe in working on ourselves (the parents) first.
For example, when we're in that struggle of getting our kids to apologize and say "sorry", part of the bigger picture is teaching our kids “why” to apologize. Most often the "why" is imbedded in our own reasons and values for apologizing. It’s about having our children connect with the core motivation behind wanting to apologize.
It's good to ask ourselves questions like, is it because...
- it’s the right thing to do?
- it's about being empathetic to the hurt feelings of someone else?
- to reduce guilt?
Whatever the question that gets us to the answer, that reason allows the “how” to follow a little more naturally because we’re linking how our thoughts, emotions and behaviors impact one another.
To say “I’m sorry" and truly mean it has to come from a genuine and sincere place. For our kids this takes time, patience and consistency to build upon because this is a very ego-centric developmental stage. Set realistic expectations for yourself because this takes practice with many repeat examples that will come all throughout our child’s development stages. So, it’s critical that we model the "how" in a non punitive, supportive and teachable way. It’s a lot to expect a little person to learn something if they haven’t been given a "how-to" guide to follow.
A great place to start is when we do something that hurts our child's feelings, gets them upset, etc. It’s just as important for us to humble ourselves and say “I’m sorry” and mean it! These moments are learning opportunities and assist them in teasing out (in simple language) how your action made them think/feel/behave. Also explain what you were thinking/feeling/behaving. Help your child connect with you and build empathy so they can begin understanding the bigger picture. They need to first learn these dynamics at home amongst the people they love and care about and whom love, care and support them. Again, this is a process and be patient. Reward their apology with compassion, warmth, tenderness, sympathy and gratitude. There are many of these learning opportunities in a day and in a week. We just need to be attuned to them and aware so we can use live, relevant and real examples to maximize those larger lessons.
Have a great rest-of-the-week and stay tuned for another energy boost next week!
Straight from the heart,