Have them ask for forgiveness

Source: boxoftricks.net

Have you taught your kids the difference between saying “I’m sorry” and asking for forgiveness? After every timeout (or other correction), I require my kids to apologize to me and to seek forgiveness from the person they hurt (physically or otherwise).

When all we require of our children is a simple “I’m sorry” or worse “sorry,” we end up with a child who shows little repentance for their actions. The attitude with which they utter “sorry” tells a lot, too. Some kids say it under their breath, use a whining voice, or say it¬†indignantly. I remember watching Supernanny and seeing kids (who were chased around for hours on end for a timeout) say “sorry” with zero conviction or repentance in their hearts. They apologized because it meant the end of the timeout. And these parents (and Supernanny) accepted their “sorry” no matter what attitude was behind it.

Don’t fall into this trap. Make sure you get a heart-felt apology from your child. There are a couple ways to do this. First, require that they use an appropriate tone of voice and that they explicitly say what they are sorry for. With my kids, I never let them say just “I’m sorry.” At minimum, they are required to say, “I’m sorry for hurting my brother,” or whatever it is that they’re being corrected for. And if I don’t like their attitude, I’ll have them stay in timeout longer or I’ll have them repeat the apology with sincerity.

The second way to ensure a heart-felt apology is to have them ask for forgiveness. When my kids are being corrected for hurting each other, I require that they ask the other for forgiveness. It makes them very uncomfortable but in a good way. It makes them accountable to the person they hurt, and it gives all of the power to the person who was hurt. The child who is being corrected has to give up control over the situation.

The Ezzos explain it well:

“Why is this forgiveness thing so powerful? Simply, it gets to the heart of the matter. Our hearts. When you say ‘I’m sorry,’ you’re in control of that moment. You control the depth and sincerity of your sorrow. But when you seek forgiveness, the one you’re humbling yourself before is in control. You’re asking something of that person that you cannot get without his or her consent–forgiveness. It is this humbling effect that so wonderfully curbs a child’s (and a parent’s) appetite for going back and doing the same wrong thing again,” (On Becoming Childwise,¬†p. 139).

When my husband and I took the Growing Kids God’s Way class, we were encouraged to have the boys ask for forgiveness from us when they hurt each other. When William hurt his little brother (Lucas was a baby at the time), it wasn’t just their relationship with each other that was called into question. William was hurting my baby, so he was required to ask for forgiveness from me.

How do you handle apologies in your home? Try having them ask for forgiveness (even with you, or especially with you) and let me know if it makes a difference in achieving a humble spirit.

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