Forcing children to say “I’m Sorry” is NG!! How to handle children who refuse to say” I’m Sorry”


Many parents are worried that their child cannot say “I`m Sorry”. When raising children, we see many situations where children get into a fight with others or play a trick on those around them and should apologize but they don’t. However, there is actually a reason why many children cannot say “I’m Sorry”. In this article, we will go over this reason and introduce tips for parents on how to best handle children who have trouble apologizing.

「ごめんなさい」の強要はNG!? 絶対に謝らない子どもへの接し方とは

Why can’t children say, “I’m Sorry”?

Because they cannot distinguish between good and bad actions

Until children turn 3 years old, it is difficult for them to understand social rules and they act how they want to. So, they do not understand that it is not OK to take another child’s toy or cut the line for the slide. No matter how angry parents get it is difficult for children to apologize when they don’t understand they did something wrong.

Because they have negative feelings toward the phrase “I’m Sorry”

Once children become older than 3 years old, they begin to be able to distinguish between good and bad actions and follow their parents’ explanations. However, they still tend to do what they want to do. At this age, many children have trouble taking responsibility for their actions even if they know they did something wrong. There are various reasons children cannot say “I’m Sorry” but one reason is that they feel that when they apologize they are admitting that they did something wrong. Also, if children are scolded by their parents even when they do apologize they often think that there is no benefit to them if they apologize.

How should parents handle children who cannot say “I’m Sorry”?

When scolding their children, parents should try to speak calmly with their child about their actions and not let their emotions get in the way. When parents become emotional and get angry, children often feel scared which makes it hard for them to understand why they are being scolded. Although they may not understand what they did wrong at first, they will understand more as they make the same mistakes. Parents should have patience and give their child the chance to grasp that they did something wrong. When they do say “I’m Sorry”, it is important for parents to praise them. Children who are stubborn need a lot of courage to apologize. So, when they do apologize, it is important that parents react positively.

Children have lots of experiences both at home and in public and sometimes face situations where they need to apologize. Parents should not worry if their child cannot apologize by him/herself while they are young. It is more important that their child grows up to care about and respect those around him/her. If they have these feelings, then they will be able to apologize in the future.

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