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Teaching Kids to Say "I'm Sorry"

Why I Haven't Taught My Kids to Say "I'm Sorry"

Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post about saying you're sorry.


While I was growing up, my stepdad had no idea what he was doing when it came to little girls. And who can blame him? Girls are a very tricky thing, especially when they are merely inherited.

In my younger years (probably ages 5 to 10) I was continually forced to say I was sorry for things that I found completely absurd. No, I am not sorry I don't want to play with my baby sister. And no, I am not sorry I forgot to turn my bedroom light off . . . even if it is the 10,000th time.

Related: I'm Afraid to Be Alone With My Own Kids

My stepdad's attempt to drill manners into me probably had the reverse effect. I became resentful and had a hard time saying "I am sorry" even when I did feel remorse for something. This lasted well into my teens.

Fast forward over 20 years, and I am a very pleasant, well-mannered adult (I think, anyway). Being a completely normal American, I had vowed not to screw my kids up the way my parents had done to me. I had hoped that I would raise my children to be darling little angels without the slightest bit of coercion. My children aren't gnarly little monsters by any means, but a recent conversation with a friend has brought me to the realization that I really dropped the ball on this one.

Our discussion went something like this:

Me: "So Katie, Dean will be 2 in October right? He must be starting to talk now?"
Katie: "Well he can say the important things like 'please' and 'thank you.'"
Me: "Maybe you should come stay at our house for a few weeks."

While I was trying to play it cool with my 'ohhhh yeah cute . . . love it when kids say please and thank you' attitude, I was thinking 'oh sh*t, sh*t, sh*t, damnit, f@ck.' My kids are way older than hers, and I haven't even thought of teaching them this.

After thinking about this long and hard, I am not even sure how to go about teaching my kids manners. Is it best to lead by example and to not force it, or is it something you should make them do — more of a "fake it till you make it" type of thing? Hoping the appropriate emotion follows the trained action one day.

Please moms, I would love your expertise. What worked for you?

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