Often when children do thing that upset another child adults force them to say I’m sorry. But, if you only tell the child “say I’m sorry” and that is it, are they really sorry? Do they understand what they are sorry for? Why do I have to say I’m sorry, I really wanted that toy. I didn’t mean to knock them down, why should I apologize? By forcing a child to just say I’m sorry, they aren’t learning what it means to apologize, and more important they aren’t fixing the problem.
Here is a simple extension to the I’m sorry that will assist the child in seeing what was wrong AND how to fix the problem.
I’m sorry that I ___________. What can I do to make you feel better? examples– I’m sorry that I knocked down your blocks. What can I do to make you feel better? The last part of this allows the child who was “offended/hurt/upset” to decide what they need… in this example they may want the child to help them rebuild the blocks. We want to validate the feelings of the child who as upset. Simple things like getting a tissue for a child who is crying, getting a band aid or even just a high five and smooth over emotions.
That is the simplest form and where to start the process. This is how I teach children who are young (3/4), who struggle to communicate, and those who are dealing with big emotions at the time.
To go beyond this. I’m sorry that I _________. Next time I will _______. What can I do to make you feel better? example– I’m sorry that I knocked you down. Next time I will watch where I’m running. What can I do to make you feel better?
The goal is for children to recognize what they did, how they can change it and what they can do now to fix the situation. I’m sorry is not enough to do this.
One last thing… children should not be taught to say “It’s ok” when they are “wronged”. It is not ok to be knocked down. It is not ok for someone to upset you. The child can accept the apology. The child can say. Thank you for apologizing, please be more careful next time. Thank you for apologizing can we work together to fix this? By saying it is ok then you are telling the other child they can do it again.
Today we will listen to the story The Circles All Around Us by Brad Montague. In this story, a young child draws a circle around their shoes, a place for just one. They then realize that there is more to the world than just one. They create a larger circle for their family a caring circle. But, is that enough? No! The child begins to realize that when you let people into your circle you find friends and others who care. You begin to accept not only people who are the same, but also people who are different.
We all need to step back and look at who we let in our circles. Is your circle small or large? Is there enough room for more, or do you need to expand?
As you begin your next journey in school, it is a great opportunity to expand your circle. Let in someone who is different from you, and appreciate the differences. It can be someone who is younger or older. It can be boys and girls. It can be someone who has hair, eyes and skin that looks different than yours. It can be someone who needs extra support to learn and grow. Or someone who just needs another friend.
Who is in your circle? And, how can you help not only expand your circle of caring, but others as well?
Parents… children need this modeled to them. They need to see you being kind to others. They need to see that you accept people who are the same AND those who are different. They hear your words and see your actions. Do you treat the cashier, the wait staff and others with kindness, acceptance and understanding? Do you speak of children of all races, religions, and abilities as people who are capable of loving, growing and learning? Do you appreciate what makes people different? Your child is our future… model for them a way to live in the world with caring and compassion for all…. different is beautiful. Different is special. Different is what makes the world a wonderful place to live!
As we move into summer, the sun stays longer. It gets harder and harder to settle in each night. So much excitement and fun to remember. This story takes settling for bedtime and turns it into a lullaby based on the memories of the day. A Lullaby of Summer Things by Natalie Ziarnik.
Often times summer means less structure and routines. Children thrive off routines and this is especially evident at bedtime. But, now they stay up a bit later and have a harder time settling down. Instead of throwing routines out the window. Take a bit of time to revamp the bedtime routines.
Think about ways to add in items such as reflecting up on the fun of the day. What fun things did you do that you want to do again? What is something you learned today? What is something that made you smile? What is something you struggled to accomplish? How will you work on that skill tomorrow? What are you looking forward to doing tomorrow?
Taking the time to reflect on the emotions of the day will help your child settle down as well as work on those social emotional skills that are so important to develop. We want children to see growth and progress. Discussing things that went well, things that didn’t go so well and the next steps for both are key.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.
Children are growing in all areas of life. One critical area of development is social emotional. As adults we need to guild children in developing healthy social emotional skills. It is the interactions we have with the children as well as the interactions your child views between yourself and other adults that is the guiding light of social emotional growth. Children need positive yet constructive words. They need you to talk about what they are doing that is going well. “I noticed that you worked really hard on your art project today. What did you think about the final result?” Notice I praised the effort and then allowed the child to reflect on the result. Often times adults praise the result and not the effort. And this can backfire if they child was not proud of the the end product, but that is what made their adult happy.
“You have really worked hard this week on learning to swim across the pool. What is your next swimming challenge?” Again the focus is on the work and effort. This allows the child to feel pride in accomplishing a goal and challenges them to set another goal.
“I noticed you were upset when you were trying to pump the swing. It’s ok to get frustrated, I was proud to see you keep trying. What can we do tomorrow to work on this skill?” Again you are focused on the skill, you acknowledged and accepted the emotions and then moved onto what can we do next? The last statement allows the child to ask for help, or not. They may need you to watch and give suggestions. The key is the child is determining the next step.
Remember that empty threats, empty promises and empty praise is not constructive. Children need to be guided to discover the best way to grow. They need to hear what they can do to move forward in their learning. Children learn what they see, they are watching and listening. Children need to see your pride, but they also need to see that they have room to grow in all things. Praise effort. Praise persistence. Offer alternatives. Discuss ideas. LISTEN to what they have to say.