Teaching children to say they're sorry

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

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

Family Consultant

Barbara Olinger has her Masters in Social Work and has worked with children and families in both educational and therapeutic settings for over 35 years. This has included being a Child and Family Therapist, the Supervising Clinician in an outpatient mental health clinic, a co-founder of a co-operative preschool, and Director of Family Development at the YWCA Santa Monica / Westside. In her current private practice, Barbara focuses on parent education and support for parents of children ages 1-10 years old and preschool teacher training. She offers on-going groups, individual/couples sessions, a monthly Dads Group, workshops on a variety of parenting topics, and phone consultations. Barbara has two sons, 29 and 26 years old.

The roots of healthy development begins with having our needs met. This is a requirement for growth: to separate, to feel confident physically, emotionally and socially, to gain a healthy sense of self, to be able to become compassionate. When our needs are supported, we develop from a foundation of trust- in our relationships and in our exploration of the world.

Strong families are built on a foundation in which development is understood and celebrated, mistakes are allowed, feelings are validated and connecting with others is emphasized. Parents can set limits with behavior while supporting needs in a way which promotes learning and self-esteem.

During this whole parenting journey, it is crucial to be conscious of our own needs and to take care of ourselves. Sharing our fears and anxieties about parenting with others can help us realize we all feel vulnerable at times and this can provide a space for growth and connection. Every parent need support!

Barbara’s parenting book “Growing From the Roots” and two DVDs (“Growing From the Roots” and “Welcoming Your Second Child”) are available through Amazon.com

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