Teaching children to say they're sorry

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Teaching children to say they're sorry

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Many parents want their young children to say "I'm sorry," after they have hurt another child. Young children are not developmentally ready to say, "I'm sorry," in a meaningful, connected way. Instead, it is often repeated mechanically or take on a magical meaning. "I can do anything I want, as long as I say I'm sorry." Instead, I like to go over to that child, say, "I'm sorry you got hurt. Is there anything we can do to help?" That way we are modeling a compassionate social connectedness without expecting it to come from our child. We don't push our child beyond their developmental capacities. Over time, the child can integrate our model, and be able to say, spontaneously, "I'm sorry," in a meaningful way.

Watch Barbara Olinger, MSW's video on Teaching children to say they're sorry...

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Barbara Olinger, MSW

Parenting Consultant

Barbara Olinger has her master's degree in social work and has been working with children and families in both therapeutic and educational settings for over 30 years. She is currently Director of Family Development at the YWCA Santa Monica/Westside and has a private practice focusing on parenting education and teacher training.  She is the author of the parenting book, Growing From the Roots: A Practical Guide to the Art of Parenting, now on DVD along with Welcoming Your Second Child. She has two sons, ages 23 and 20 years old.  

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