I talk through with them how accidents happen and that it’s kind to show that you’re genuinely sorry for causing any pain. I certainly demonstrate it when I’m at fault! How do I get them to say sorry?”
The first thing to know is that you’re not alone, your disappointment in their reactions shows your wish for your children to take responsibility, demonstrate accountability, show kindness and not just the knee jerk reaction to blame others.
How can we get our kids to apologise from the heart?
Why your child doesn’t think to say sorry.
Kids instinctively know that there’s no fault in an accident, that’s why you get a “It wasn’t my fault!”
Our own instinct is to get them to say sorry, because to us, that demonstrates that they feel genuine remorse.
But in an accident like this one, if our child says sorry, they’re really saying “It’s my fault,” and if they say, “It’s my fault,” it means that they accept they’re to blame. And if they are to blame, that means they are in the wrong.
No one wants to feel at fault or blamed for accidentally hurting a sibling.
If someone IS to blame, the natural progression of thought would be: “Well it can’t be me, I didn’t mean to, it was an accident – so it has to be my sibling’s fault instead.”
No wonder they blurt out that “It’s your fault for having your leg there.”
Remove fault and blame and you’re more likely to encourage accountability for their part to play in the accident.
Responding to your child’s intentions rather than their actions can bring out their best self. When a child makes a mistake or accidentally breaks something or hurts someone, recognising your child’s true intentions and pointing it out tells them that you understand them.
The relief they feel is instant, and knowing you are on their side allows them to apologise from the heart.
The simplest way to stay calm and turn an accident into a teachable moment is to SAY WHAT YOU SEE (SWYS)
SWYS is the first step in the framework I teach, it’s an objective observation of what you see:
SWYS “You didn’t think that would happen! You were having so much fun, you didn’t notice your brother’s leg under the cover. You didn’t mean to hurt him.”
Once the situation is over, you can encourage your child to problem-solve for next time.
CAN DO- “Must be something you CAN DO next time to make sure it’s safe before jumping.”
Look out for the next time your child is successful, you’ll get a chance to point out their STRENGTH. “You know what to do, that shows you’re attentive, careful, a danger spotter.”
Why is this important?
It lets them know-
1) That you don’t blame them, that there is NO fault.
2) It stops them from blaming themselves. Such a relief as this really does change their inner voice, imagine not having that inner critic in your head blaming you and finding fault in your mistakes.
Sharing that you know it wasn’t intentional and you saw they were trying their best, will put a stop to feeling blame and shame and allows our child to take responsibility for their actions.
I bet you’ll even get a heartfelt apology.
Would you like more support? If home life feels like a daily battleground and you want to go from a shouty house with threats being thrown around and constant battles to a more fun, relaxed, happy family life let’s chat. You can schedule a complimentary, no-obligation call. You can do that by clicking right here.