Use these 6 steps to teach your kids how to say ‘I’m sorry’: ‘A good apology takes ownership’

Apologies, whether public or private, are easy to confuse.

When Marjorie Ingle and Susan McCarthy decided to write "Sorry, Sorry, Sorry: The Case for Good Apologies," they wanted to know why.

Both journalists were surprised at how difficult it was to give an honest - or at least honest - apology.

Ingle also had a personal stake in learning how to teach children to say "sorry."

"I had a kid who was a horrible, cruel kid," she said. "As a result she spent a lot of time in the chair."

One of the reasons it's so hard to say "sorry" is because we're not good at apologizing growing up.

"Most of us see our parents fighting and think, 'Oh, no, that's terrible,' and the next morning everything is fine," she says.

To be good at apologizing as an adult, you have to learn it as a child, she says.

"It's a muscle you develop," she says. "No one is great right out of the gate."

There are steps that make this easier.

Children should not have 'freedom' about apologizing

Ingle notes that it doesn't matter if your child is remorseful or not. Because most of the time, they don't.

"When you're teaching kids to apologize, I don't think they should have free will about it," she said.

Although you eventually want your children to understand that what they have done is harmful to themselves or others, the goal is to teach them the "how" when they are young, not the "why."

"Initially all you want to get from them is 'I'm sorry,'" she said.

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