CNN addresses children and apologies, offering lessons to us all.
Kelly Wallace writes (excerpt):
Erik Fisher, a psychologist working in the Atlanta area and co-author of “The Art of Empowered Parenting: The Manual You Wish Your Kids Came With,” said it’s not always easy to get children to apologize exactly when the wrong occurs. In Schnell’s case, he advised her to help her son “slow his engine down” by talking with him in a calm voice and then asking him how he thinks he might be able to show that he is sorry to the boy he hurt.
“Do you, as a parent, say, ‘I’m sorry’ and mean it, meaning that you’ve changed your behavior? Are you teaching your child to feel what other people feel, to take perspectives?” said Fisher, the psychologist and author. “So when you say ‘sorry’ and you mean it and behavior changes … you help them understand also what ‘I’m sorry’ means.”
Other ways to teach our kids empathy include trying to help our kids develop perspective and understand where the other person is coming from, for example, when we discipline our kids. We can tell our child that we are disappointed in their behavior and then ask our child how they would feel if it happened to them or how they think their friend feels and what their friend now needs to feel better.