Before we can lead and guide our children to cultivate peace in the midst of conflict, we must work on our mindset. Instead of viewing not wanting to apologize as a sign of rebellion or defiance, or meanness, shift your mindset and train yourself to see it as a sign your child still needs help with interpersonal relationships.

Up to around age 7 , children have a natural and God-given lack of empathy. It isn't a character flaw or because they're mean-spirited. Rather, it is because seeing life through another person's eyes is a profoundly advanced concept, and the part of the brain that is primarily responsible for perspective-taking, is under-developed. Children have a hard enough time identifying their own emotions, much less someone else's!

"He who speaks truth tells what is right, But a false witness, deceit." Proverbs 12:17

If a child is not ready to apologize, let's not coerce them to say things they don't mean. Instead, 

“I can tell you’re not ready to apologize. That’s okay, lots of people have a hard time saying I’m sorry. Sometimes it’s because we feel shy or embarrassed, and sometimes it’s because we aren’t really sorry and we don’t want to say things that we don’t mean. When you’re ready, it’s usually best to say 'I’m sorry, how can I make this right?’

And leave it. You may find that much of the time they do initiate their apology on their own time. But if it winds up going unsaid, and the relationship is mended anyway, that may be a wonderful time to teach about grace and forgiveness.  

The Daniel Tiger App has a great little jingle to help remind kids how to say "I'm sorry, now how can I help?" 

The Our Siblings Workshop talks a lot about apologies and teaching young children how to bring peace to conflict. You can learn more here. 


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