When a child has made a social mistake, or hurt someone’s feelings we often automatically tell them to “Say, you’re sorry.” Sometimes the child will say the words, but not connect them with any real feeling of regret for the mistake. We have accidentally taught them to say something they don’t really feel, and they rarely learn from it. I would rather ask a child to show they are sorry by a “do-over.” I ask the child to say or do the kind thing, use their word rather than grab or demonstrate the more appropriate behavior. The adult can express sympathy to the hurt or offended person to role model the sincere expression of regret. The child can learn from this role modeling.
Key Point: Teach children to express sincere regret by correcting their mistakes.