5–6 Years

Parents (USA) - - Contents - By AMELIA DRESS

Teach proper apolo­gies.

Take a step back.

Kids may re­sist say­ing “sorry” be­cause they think a mis­take wasn’t their fault. They need to know that even when they were wrong, they’re not “bad” and are still loved. If your child is ar­gu­ing with a friend and pushes him, first help him calm down. In­sist­ing he say “sorry” when he’s up­set will only make it harder for him to know how his be­hav­ior af­fects oth­ers. As he learns em­pa­thy, he’ll un­der­stand the pain his ac­tions can cause, de­velop re­morse, and be bet­ter able to han­dle con­flicts later.

If your child’s anger is di­rected at you, re­spond­ing with “We don’t talk that way! Apol­o­gize!” will only es­ca­late the sit­u­a­tion and make him feel bad about be­ing scolded rather than about be­ing rude to you. In­stead, say, “That hurts my feel­ings. I love you. Let’s take a break and come back later.”

Re­view what hap­pened.

Once she calms down, ask, “How would you feel if that hap­pened to you?” You can also help her re­call when she felt the same way: “Re­mem­ber how sad you were when Stella yelled at you? That might be how Chloe feels.” Then brain­storm ac­tions that would work bet­ter next time.

Lead by ex­am­ple.

Your child is watch­ing what you do. If you snapped at him when he in­ter­rupted your con­ver­sa­tion, you might say, “I’m sorry I didn’t re­spond in a nicer way. Next time, I’ll take a deep breath to calm down.” As he sees this process in ac­tion, he will in­ter­nal­ize the words and their mean­ing.

Ex­plore other ways to say “sorry.”

If your child calls her friend a mean name, come up with ways to apol­o­gize. She might draw her a pic­ture or of­fer a hug. This helps her learn to be re­spon­si­ble for cor­rect­ing mis­takes. If she re­fuses to apol­o­gize, you might choose to avoid the power strug­gle; an­other chance will come along. But if she does say “sorry,” praise her: “You should feel proud for mak­ing your friend happy!” Sources: Ericka An­der­son, a li­censed pro­fes­sional coun­selor at The Heal­ing Grove, in Glen­wood Springs, Colorado; Jen­nifer Kirk, Psy.d., a psy­chol­o­gist at Kirk Neu­robe­hav­ioral Health, in Louisville, Colorado.

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