Can We Get Kids to Say “Sorry” Like They Mean It?

When kids fight, parents typically try to resolve things by telling the kids they have to say they’re sorry.

While parents may be aware that this can be a very shallow, “go through the motions” sort of consequence for kids, they may also struggle to know what to do instead — “How else will my kids know that they should say they’re sorry?”

We can’t make our kids give a heartfelt apology. But we’ve found that not only can kids learn the importance of apologizing and reconciling from the heart, but they can even learn to the point where they value reconciliation enough to mend broken relationships themselves!

In this short 3 minute video, Lynne shares a helpful illustration to explain conflict resolution to kids, and some practical tips for teaching and modeling reconciliation in your home.


Take 15 minutes to learn how to give consequences that teach, rather than simply punish, by downloading our free ebook Consequences That Actually Work.

The Surprising Power of No, Yes, and Why

When our kids do something they’re not supposed to, or ask us for something they can’t have, often our reflexive response is a simple, quick, “No!” And our kids’ reflexive response to “no” can be frustration, resentment, or even a meltdown.

But a look at the Bible gives us another way to respond to our kids — one that still enforces boundaries, but helps kids to grow in wisdom even through the “no”.

Why “It Is NOT OK to Talk That Way!” Doesn’t Work

Not Okay to Talk that Way (1)

There are many ways in which parents intentionally or unintentionally model positive character qualities: self-control, caring, diligence, faithfulness, etc.

But we can also model negative character qualities, especially when we’re not thoughtful!

When our eldest son Daniel and I got into power struggles, I was keenly aware of how disrespectful he was! But I was usually oblivious to my own angry, shaming words and tone.

With a scowl, pointed finger, and strong tone I would grandly announce,

                                “It is NOT OK to talk like that!”

My condescending proclamations were an attempt to feel in charge, but did nothing to calm the conflict.

What to Do When Kids Go Crazy? Do a Do-Over!

“I call the window seat!”

“Nu-uhhh, it’s MY turn!”

“No way!”

“OW! Mom, she hit me!”

Sometimes it can seem like the simplest interactions are the ones that explode out of nowhere. Getting out the door to school, getting in the car to go somewhere, getting ready for bed — when it comes to transition time, you can just feel your blood pressure begin to rise.

Standing Tall Grows Our Confidence… But at What Cost?

tall angry parent conflict

artproem | iStockphoto.com

As CF’s workshop coordinator, I often attend workshops to help run the table and answer questions — and, since I have some experience in acting, sometimes to jump into the impromptu skits that parents suggest. I can play a great misbehaving 5 year old!

On this particular day, Jim played the dad who was tired after a long day of work and arrived home to find his two girls — Lynne, age 7, and Ellie (that’s me), age 5 — arguing over a toy. Sound familiar?

3 Game-Changing Questions to Show Your Kids They’re Worth It

It can be hard work to change the way you parent. Especially when your efforts to stay calm lead to more pushback from your kids.

Along the way it’s normal to fall into the old habit of huffing and puffing to get your own sense of control. Don’t lose heart! When this happens, let the dust settle for you and your child, and then ask your kids the following powerful questions:

Stressful Times Lead to Fertile Hearts

Painting pictures in my mind has been very helpful in my parenting journey. For example, when I’m upset and feel like my head is going to explode I imagine a balloon in my lungs filling and releasing air. When my kids are upset and I remain calm, I visualize myself “loaning” my calm to them as a blanket to cover them during their emotional storm.

A word-picture God gave me recently is appropriate for the spring weather we’ve been having: when my kids are upset, tense, frustrated, angry — really any negative emotion — I picture a tiny rototiller tilling up the soil of their hearts.

Teaching Kids True Repentance [video]

When kids make a mistake, especially when they hurt others, most parents would agree that it’s important to learn repentance — for kids to feel sorry for what they’ve done.

But in our pursuit of this goal, many parents settle for the appearance of repentance — a quick and skin-deep “Sorry.” This approach does NOT teach kids to repent. It only teaches them that conflict can be “resolved” by going through empty motions, or saying the magic words even when their hearts are not in it. This actually hardens hearts to true repentance.

Practical Ways to Connect in the Middle of Discipline [video]

Parents often think about how to connect with their children — but what we don’t always realize is that parents can connect even when children are misbehaving!

(In fact, sometimes the middle of misbehavior is the most powerful time to connect.)

If you haven’t already, check out our recent piece about the importance and power of empathy when kids misbehave. Then, add to your list of practical ways to connect with this short video that gives more examples of how to make sure kids know, “You are loved no matter what!” even when they misbehave.