A tiny but important word for your children to hear: ‘Sorry’

A word we expect children to say but which they also need to hear.

Much of the time we rightly expect our children to say “sorry” when they’ve done the wrong thing or made a mistake, yet they don’t often hear it said by the adults around them.

We need to model talking about the mistakes we make, how to manage them, and what we learn from them. They need to hear us say “sorry” to them, our spouse and to God. As our children hear our apology and see our repentance they learn that mistakes are something to learn from, that can be forgiven, and are best not hidden.

You can make light of some mistakes e.g. the recipe that was a disaster on the first attempt and looked like a volcano instead of like the picture! Make a point of saying that you will be trying it again next week to see if you can improve.

You could post a sign in your home that says F.A.I.L. stands for “First Attempt In Learning.” Success is rarely a straight, upward line – more often it’s a very backwards and forwards bumpy line.

You could share over dinner, what mistakes did each family member make today and what did each learn? Did they need to say “sorry” to someone today? Discussing failure helps move the orientation from disaster to normalcy.

A genuine “sorry” builds and maintains good relationships. Children can fall out of friendships quickly, but learning to say “sorry” is part of being a good friend and family member.

Let’s ensure they hear “sorry” from us, not just as a requirement to say to us. As a family, take a culture check on what you are building in your homes. Is it one of ready apology and quick forgiveness? Hearing “sorry” frequently at home can set up your child for good emotional and spiritual health.

And I’m sorry, but you’ll need to wait till next time for the final of our four key words that children need to hear!

Colleen Houghton
Kids COACH coordinator of Community Mentoring, Crossway Lifecare
Colleen has over 20 years’ experience working with children and a background in nursing and pastoral care. She is married with three adult children and three grandsons who are a source of great love, fun and lots of games!