I hear it all the time: "Say you're sorry...no, you need to say you're sorry...you hit him, tell him you're sorry...no, you aren't going to read this book until you say you're sorry...say it...tell him you're sorry..."

This generally goes on for a few minutes before the child mumbles, "I'm sorry" then the adult gives him back the book while saying, "See, that wasn't so hard."

What? Not so hard!?! That was 5 minutes of pure torture for EVERYONE. The child who was hit had to hang around and wait, the child who hit had someone harping in is ear for five minutes, and the adult sat there thinking, "Why won't this child just say two simple words!!!"

In reality, saying those words MEANS NOTHING! (go ahead anonymous, tell me I'm wrong again and don't know what I'm talking about). It's true; especially to a young child. Really, saying "I'm sorry" just means that you are going to stop talking at me and I can get on with what I'm doing and I'm not in trouble anymore.

Saying I'm sorry doesn't make the other person feel better and has no consequence to the hitter (or whatever he did-hit, bite, kick, etc...).

I have, on more occasions than I can count, seen children who have been "trained" to say I'm sorry hit, say I'm sorry, hit again, say I'm sorry, and keep up this cycle.

I'm sorry solves nothing.

So, what are you supposed to do? SHOW you're sorry.

"You hit him, you need to go get an ice pack for him." "You pushed him down, now you need to wash his knee and get a bandaid for him." "Oops, you hit him with the ball, ask him if he's okay."

See, saying (showing) I'm sorry doesn't just go for the intentional; it also goes for the unintentional. When you do wrong to someone, you need to fix it.

Now, while they are icing/washing/fixing the problem, I make it real clear to the intentional injury that, "you could be playing all this time, but you've had to stop to fix this."

Oh, they don't get that book back either if it was intentional. This is were redirection and some time away from others comes into play and some conflict resolution.

When a child says, "I'm sorry", you of course want to recognize that, but that doesn't solve the problem, "I'm glad that you said I'm sorry, but you need to help him...(fix his blocks, get a bandaid, stand up, tape his picture, feel better, etc...). That's how you show you mean you're sorry."

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