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Teaching your child more than Sorry

Moms, we all know how it is. Our children are quick to say sorry because they know that is what we want to hear, but do they really understand what they are saying? How do we teach them more than sorry?


Our daughters are now 7 and 10 and I am the first to admit that I am no expert when it comes to parenting. That said, there are a few things that my husband and I have done that work well in our home.

Today I would like to share with you what “saying sorry” looks like in our home.

When one of our girls does something that they need to apologize for, this is what it looks like…

I’m sorry for ____________.

This was wrong because ___________.

Next time I will _____________.

Do you forgive me ______________.

Let me tell you that when we first started this method, it was hard – in fact, even after a year into using this method we had struggles, but because we stuck to it, this method has been extremely valuable in our home.

Let me share one example with you. We were at a friends house and my 6 year old needed to say sorry to another child. My girl was very strong willed. She screamed, she was willing to say sorry, but she did not want to continue the other steps – that’s the hard part. I sat and held her on the floor for what seemed like forever until she was ready to go through the steps. I could have gone home, I could have gave in because it was embarrassing for me as a mom, but I was patient and she did apologize. You want to know the great thing? We have never gone through an experience like that at someone else’s house since then. When I left, I thought my friend might think I was a bit of a crazy mom, but you know what? She told me that she loved that I stuck with it and did not give in, she told me that it was an example to her, and you know what else? She told me she was going to use the same method with her children.

(Note: it is important to stay calm and not embarrass your child – this is a not a punishment, this is not a burden, it is an opportunity to model kind behavior). 

Going through these steps helps children acknowledge what they are sorry for, why they are sorry and it helps them to think about what they can do instead the next time. Often children repeat behavior because they are so used to it and they have never thought about another way.

Sometimes it can be hard to teach our children skills – the best way to teach is by example, so when I need to say sorry to one of my girls, I use this same method.

saying sorry

You may also like these other parenting articles on Mommy Moment:

Parenting in the present

Parenting with optimism

Slightly imperfect parenting

Parenting without anxiety

Stressed out parenting

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Carole Dube

Sunday 18th of December 2016

I always though my children were sometime too quick to say sorry, what's the point if they don't mean it right! I'm going to forward this to my daughter for my granddaughters.

NJ Nowoselski

Saturday 5th of March 2016

it is so true! And I am going to try this method Not only with the kids but with hubby too. Also I am going to get better at saying sorry too. This is a great reminder for the whole family. Say it with meaning :)

Melanie W

Monday 29th of February 2016

i really try to teach my child this as well. It's not enough that your sorry, understanding why is so important!

Elaine Buonsante

Saturday 9th of January 2016

What an excellent way to teach anyone, children and adults, the concept of apology.

Debbie White Beattie

Wednesday 6th of January 2016

This is a really great article you've written. Your advice is really sound and it makes great sense. Children really do find it hard to accept that they've done anything wrong but you've helped a lot.