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Making Kids say Sorry - Issue 336
March 07, 2014
|Hi there! ....
This week: we had a great study week – even though Monday was a public holiday. I like reflecting back on weeks like this because we’ve had to be flexible, we’ve had to change plans, we’ve had heart issues to talk about, we’ve had interruptions, we’ve had distractions, and yet we’ve also had good study times, good family times, we’ve got projects happening, and life skills being addressed. Overall a good week! A personal highlight was being asked to go up the river with friends – I left my family at home, and had a lovely day seeing God’s creation and being with friends – the kids joined us later in the day for some biscuiting. We also had our yearly homeschool concert which was a highly entertaining night with a variety of acts. Highlight was a little 3year old who sang a song as she composed it on the spot. I love seeing how the kids perform more confidently each year.
Live life with your kids!
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Making Kids say Sorry
A while back I read about a day-care center that was no longer going to make their kids say sorry. They felt it was an ‘ineffective punishment’ and since the kids didn’t understand or mean ‘sorry’ they felt they were not really helping the kids get along. There’s a little bit of truth here based on a lot of false assumptions.
I am sure the kids don’t mean what they are saying (true) but:
Saying sorry is a relationship building phrase – it needs to come from the heart. That means it needs to be based on a belief, on an understanding, as well as on an emotion. We cannot just say it, parrot fashion, and expect it to fix things. We cannot be forced to say it – well we can, and parents often do, but it won’t change anything, because it is just words, the heart hasn’t be touched.
When something goes wrong in a relationship – be it a swipe of the hand of a toddler, or a snatch of a toy, or mean words, or not wanting to hangout with someone – something has gone on in the heart. Generally a selfish something! The heart has lost the belief that all people are special, that we are called to love all people; instead the heart is focusing on self – I’m not happy, I want that, I’m important, I don’t have to!
Simply being forced to say sorry, won’t teach children to be other centered, or help them in empathy or compassion. Though our voluntary words come from our heart – the words we are made to say are just academic – they come straight out of our mouth, not the heart.
This is where the day-care center made an assumption – because it isn’t heart-felt, then it isn’t real, then it doesn’t need to happen. Wrong.
As parents, we need to teach the heart.
This is where people start thinking that saying sorry is the punishment. It isn’t. Saying sorry is a mending word. A whole lot of heart-thought needs to happen before anyone can say sorry. If we miss this process then we are just going through the motions and there will be no change in our kid’s behaviour.
A punishment, or consequence, is to help our kids understand the importance of the value they have abused or missed. When our kids broke a relationship with their selfish actions, the punishment was that they could no longer enjoy that relationship, and because relationship with each other was the foundation of all we did, they couldn’t really be a part of that activity either. So when they were selfish and unrepentant, they had time away from their activity. During this time, I would visit with them regularly, helping them process their heart. When they were ready to put things right, then they were free to do so, and were welcomed back into whatever we were doing.
In order to put it right they needed to:
This looks like: I am sorry I yelled at you, that was wrong of me, I wasn’t showing you respect, will you please forgive me?
There is a difference between regret and repentance. Regret is sorry that they were caught, or inconvenienced. Repentance though is a heartfelt sadness that they don’t want to do that again. This heart felt sadness, leads to an apology, and a desire to do it right next time. (To be honest, toddlers probably are only regretting. They don’t have the where-with-all to fully process the moral implications of what is going on – but it is a start. This is why things happen over and over and over with a toddler.) If there is no change in an older child after a heart process and an apology, then more training needs to happen.
Three things are happening when our older kids keep doing the wrong thing:
Just because kids don’t mean it or don’t change after saying sorry is no reason why we should not introduce this relational key and start helping our kids to build strong healthy relationships. It won’t just happen, kids need to see it modelled, then we need to teach it, help them practice it and then expect it. Relationships in our family and beyond will be better off when we all take responsibility for our actions towards others.
During the week I blog at Live Life with Your Kids! This week I posted:
Check out other homeschool and parenting issues over at my website, Lifestyle Homeschool
Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.
Heart Focus Parenting book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.
Restoring the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas Do your Christmas celebrations line up with what you believe? Do your celebrations help your children learn more about Jesus?
This e-book is based on a workshop I held for a couple of years to help families see that Christmas can be a significant tradition in our family life. If we are intentional about how our family celebrates we have the opportunity to use this time to teach our children about Jesus, and his love for each one of us.
Contact me: If you have any comments, questions or content ideas I'd love to hear from you.
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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter
Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!
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