Not actually a tard.

How To Say “I’m Sorry”, If You Are 3 or 93.

Posted by leahtard on July 3, 2007

img005.jpgThis is my invention – an absolute moment of genius if you ask me.

If you have kids than you have struggled with the “I’m sorry” dilemma. You know half the time they (as in the kids) do not mean it and the other half they are mad/sad because they have got caught. Then there are the kids who are so stubborn that they would not give you the steam off their piss if it would make your life one bit easier, (be honest all of our children can be stubborn like this on occasion). I have rolled this I’m sorry thing around in my head now for about 4 years and have rarely come up with a solution that works. There seems to be two schools of thought. One being that you make them say sorry and eventually they will get it, (which is what I have been doing). The other being that you should not make them say it because they do not mean it and you are teaching the child to be false to themselves and to the person that they have hurt.

Truth be told neither of these “plans” worked for me and I never felt that they were good solutions. One of my main problems was that how is the person who was hurt a part of this whole thing if the only thing that happened was your kid saying sorry. Where was the accountability and the problem resolution?

Here was what I have come up with and so far it seems to be working.


Vivian and Alex are playing outside having a grand old time and for some unknown reason that only God in his infinite wisdom could ever possible imagine, Alex goes up to Vivian and pinches her or maybe he even pushes her off her bike. I now have one crying Vivian and a Alex who has run away and hiding because he does not want to get into trouble.

First do the basics – these are the things you would do anyway….. Or I hope you would.

Step 1. Make sure Vivian is not going to die and or bleeding profusely.

Step 2. Find offender and bring him back to the scene of the crime.

*Step 3. Alex has to say sorry to Vivian. He has to look at her when he does it and he has to say it in a tone of voice that actually contains some amount of sympathy. If they have to say it one time or ten, I do not care but the I’m sorry must be said with meaning!

*Step 4. Alex now has to ask if Vivian is okay. She usually says yes, but that is neither here nor there, Alex needs to know if she is okay.

*Step 5. Alex now has to ask if there is anything else he can do. Once again Vivian usually says no, but reparation has to me at least offered in order for anyone to feel a little better.

Since I started doing this a few weeks ago, my kids seem to be more concerned when they hurt someone. Maybe because they have to ask the questions or maybe because now there is a bit of follow through. Either way I am not sure, I do know that after we do the three step, that each time once it is over it is truly over. I always say. “Okay, then we are done lets get on with our day.” For some reason it works! Many of my friends are doing it now and the kids know that whether they are at Nancy’s, Kathryn’s or grandma’s house it is all the same.

My hope and I think all of our hope is that we raise caring and responsible children, I hope that this will make that step easier. I do not want Vivian watching a old lady fall and just run over and ask if she is going to be fine then leave thinking her “job” as a responsible citizen is done. I want her to help her and make sure she is okay. I want kids that speak up, and don’t let other people bully. I want kids that are strong and able to stand up for themselves and maybe by showing that we/they care when someone has been hurt I can help that along.

3 Responses to “How To Say “I’m Sorry”, If You Are 3 or 93.”

  1. Josie said

    I think that’s an excellent way to teach your kids that “i’m sorry” is more than 2 words that “fix” everything. You are teaching them empathy and compassion at the same time. Good for you and lucky them.

  2. chelle said

    I am so taking notes. Becca is in a big “I’m Sorry” phase but it something she is saying not feeling.

  3. Damselfly said

    Good idea. I like having the child ask if the other is OK. My stepmother always made me say I was sorry for X, not just “I’m sorry,” but sorry for whatever specific stupid thing I did!

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