Behaviour Guidance Tip – “Sorry Doesn’t Fix it”

Did you know that when you ask a child to say sorry following a situation, you are teaching them an automatic response. Often that response reinforces the behaviour and does not teach them how to rectify the situation.

Although it is important to model and teach manners, a child needs to experience a true sense of empathy in order to be compassionate to others.

In order to generalize this skill;

  1. Use an empathetic statement to validate all children’s needs and wants (e.g., “You look upset. You have waited a long time for a turn.”).
  2. Teach the child what they could do differently in the future (e.g., how to ask for a turn, how to stop playing a game, talking about winning and losing).
  3. Model the appropriate times to say, “I’m sorry”, (e.g., accidentally bumping into others, interrupting conversations, etc.). This is teaching children that mistakes happen and by saying sorry you are authentically recognizing your role in the situation and how your actions impacted someone else.

Brooks Hachey and Jocelyne Desbiens, Behaviour Consultants
Children’s Integration Support Services