“I’m Sorry” — this expression is enough to state that the person regrets their wrongdoing. An adult can easily understand the depth of this phrase, however, for a child, its meaning is quite difficult. So, as a parent, you can help them understand that it’s more than just a social gesture.
If a child commits an error, a common reaction like a punishment, a mere scolding or criticizing their act will not help. Try to inculcate in them the thought of how it would feel if someone wronged them in the same fashion. Ask them if there was anything they could do differently to help change the outcome.
Here’s how you can help your child to learn from their mistakes:
Teach them that accepting mistakes are quite normal and one does not have to be embarrassed about it. Instead of punishing or reacting loudly to a mistake, help them differentiate between a right and wrong deed. Give some time to settle, do not react immediately as this grants the space to get over the frustration.
- Give them certain responsibilities. Start with small ones, like making the bed or watering plants, this discourages the habit of blaming others. When a child makes a mistake, remind him of similar mistakes that he/she must have made previously. Tell them that repeating the same mistake can create more problems.
- Ask your child to write an apology letter. This is a simple, yet effective way, to help in introspection. Ask your child to mention the entire incident, from the very beginning, mentioning every minute detail, and what could have been an alternative for this.
- Explain to them that punishments are not to discourage a person, but to help them to explore solutions and practice new behaviors. Further, as soon as your child apologizes for the mistake, give them a warm hug and move on.
- A child must be prepared to deal with their mistakes and have enough courage to accept them and not repeat them again. Start with the basics, tell them to apologize for a broken promise, fight over a toy, etc.
So, make eye contact, talk to them, and ask them to repeat after you “I won’t break a toy, I’m Sorry”, “I’ll take your permission next time, I’m sorry”, etc.