What Is Behind Your Childs’ “I’m sorry”
Four Common Reasons Children Say “I’m Sorry”
Why do children say “I’m sorry” when there isn’t anything to be sorry about? Why do they feel the need to express sympathy for a situation that involves other children, but not them? Often times, they may feel the pain of other children and are sensitive to others. It may result from the impact friends’ choices have on them especially if they were unable to stop those hurtful actions. Or it may be a mirror sympathy effect (i.e. when they feel bad, I feel bad). Self-confidence can also play an important part. There are times when saying sorry isn’t always about what they did as much as what they are feeling. Listen to your child when they say sorry and get to know the situation so you know how to help them move forward.
What’s Behind the Emotion
When an experience happens to your child’s friends and they feel the need to apologize to them, what is behind this emotion? Many times it displays the need to help others see that they are a good person. I like to call this “The unspoken pain”. This emotion is silent to the rest of us and is only heard by the child. Their thought process is “How can I help my friend? I do not want them to hurt, or be sad. I want to be their friend. If I say I am sorry they will know that I care.” When a child sees another child being bullied, they feel helpless and are unable to take action. They feel pain within themselves and doubt who they are. For the child on the receiving end, they tend to not understand the” I’m sorry” of your child. They hear the emotion as an acknowledgement of the experience and not their feelings.
Help Your Child Learn to Express Themselves
Feeling the need to apologize may just be due to not knowing how else to express themselves. Here are a few ways you can open up to your children for emotional, verbal expression.
- “Sorry” is for when you have hurt someone else.
- Acknowledging their friends in another way; You’re special to me. I am grateful for you, You are really good at___________ (The acknowledgment of the value of the other person in the form of a compliment helps to change their experiences).
- Teach them that opportunities to help someone else helps them and the person being helped feel valued. (Especially when they cannot always change the situation).
Of course, you, the parent, are their best source and role model. Think about it. How often do you say you’re sorry when you are not the cause of the pain? How often do you take the time to remind people of their value? That you’re grateful for their life? Do you remind that person of the value they have in your life? “I’m sorry,” says “I acknowledge your pain”, but we need to do more that says “How can I help you”?
If you notice that you use apologies in the wrong moments, you are not alone. I can be the worst with this. Especially when I feel powerless in a situation. When I say it too much, I try to remember there are many other options to pick from to help others during their times of need.
In the world of emojis, on-line chat rooms and social media, being present and acknowledging others’ pain says so much more than “I’m sorry”; it shows them that you are there and you care.
Recently, I have had many of those close to me walk through many forms of pain; suicide, deaths, sickness, etc. Our connection with those in pain can be so much more than just an apology. A simple act of kindness or a note of thoughtfulness will stay with them longer than any words we could possibly offer.
Life is a journey that offers hope, love, and peace. Let’s work on this together!
Let me know your thoughts. I know I am not alone in my journey. I appreciate you taking the time to read these thoughts and for your support!