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Saying Sorry to children - When and Why

As parents or adults, we find ourselves naturally in the position of being superior to children especially in terms of thinking and acting. Pause and think about it. "How wrong can we get when we are around children?" It is not very often (hopefully) that we will find ourselves apologizing to our children, sometimes even when we know we are in the wrong.

That aside, there are really 3 genuine situations where we should sincerely apologize to Junior.

When? When it is good manners to do so; when it is being respectful to do so; and when it is being responsible to do so.

Why? Because you are engaging Junior in positive character building on a subconscious level.

(1) When it is good manners to apologize – say “Sorry” when you hurt someone physically, especially when it is unintentional. I have overheard recently an estimated 70Kg Dad who accidentally stepped onto his child’s toes and the child went: “OUCHH!” Guess what Daddy said?

“TOO BAD!” I understand from some of my Daddy friends that this is part of the fun they get from parenthood but… you get what I mean. Probably once or twice you do this to a child ‘it is okay’ (actually I still do not think it is okay) but if it that is the kind of reply you often give to a child, it will be hard to convince the child that it is good manners to apologize if he or she ever bump onto someone else outside!

(2) When you need to return the respect to your child because you wronged Junior of his/her intentions or actions. It is okay, adults make the mistake of being wrong in judgments too. Usually, I do this in an “as a matter of fact” tone: “I see I got you wrong here. You were actually trying to help and that’s good effort. Sorry about that Munchkin.”

(3) When you need take responsibility for not being able to keep your promises to them.

This should really be the most minimal because, we should hold our promises to children or others. The bad haze hovering around especially end September on weekends meant reduced outdoor playtime for my children. Because of that, I wasn’t able to keep my word to bring them to the “sandpit playground” at Bukit Batok Nature Park and my elder munchkin certainly held me by the neck several times with the “BUT MOMMY, U SAID U WILL BRING US THERE ONE DAY…” After brushing her off a couple of times, I apologized and explained that it is not good to be outdoors in the haze so I suggested we plan for some indoor activities instead.

The important thing about this sort of apology is that we need to explain why the promise could not be kept in simple words and, be sincere about it.

All of these will help mold them up in future as responsible individuals who pursue good manners and be respectful to others. That aside, apologies should always be minimal otherwise it would lose its meaning.

Let us be mindful that we are setting examples wherever we are when children are around. Together, we will make this a better place for everyone.

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