Monday, April 9, 2007

A Proper Apology

We recently added another 'step' to our family's apology process, and I was sharing how effective it has been for us with my Mum, who in turn shared it with her Beth Moore Bible Study group, comprised mostly of young mothers, many of them homeschoolers. As I was sending Mum my written 'plan' complete with examples, I thought it might be something for my blog, so here it is! I hope it is helpful to you!

Hint: It works really well for grown-ups too!

A Proper Apology

To be made by the offending child to the offended child, looking directly at one another.
This process takes about 5 minutes, but will reap eternal rewards!


1. “I am sorry for ……………” (Inappropriate ACTION or WORDS)
Examples: “I am sorry for hitting (pinching, biting, sitting on) you.” “I am sorry for not sharing with you.” “I am sorry for being bossy and unkind.” “I am sorry for lying to you.” “I am sorry for accusing you of something you didn’t do.” etc.

2. “I was wrong to …………………(Name the SIN). I know my sin hurt you and did not please God.”
Examples: “I was wrong to get angry with you and say those angry words.” “I was wrong to be selfish and try to take that toy from you.” “I was wrong to have a mean spirit toward you.” I was wrong to lie to you.” “I was wrong to accuse you.” “I was wrong not to forgive you when you asked my forgiveness.” etc. If this child continually struggles with the same sin, we require that they neatly copy appropriate Scripture verses in full and memorize one.

3. “Will you please forgive me for …….(Inappropriate ACTION or WORDS)?”

*** Humble acceptance of the apology by the offended person is required here. If the offended child is unwilling to forgive, both children have BREAK TIME on a chair in their rooms and start the process again when a willingness to forgive is reached.

4. “I’d like to help make it right by ……….. (Plan for simple restitution).”
Examples: “ I’d like to help make it right by reading you a story book of your choice.” “I’d like to help make it right by helping you clean your books or toys up.” “I’d like to help make it right by sharing this special toy with you for today.” “I’d like to help make it right by paying for the toy I broke.” “I’d like to help make it right by unloading the dishwasher for you.”
*** My kids are super creative here and come up with some great ways to make restitution - let them be creative but within reason since one child need not become a slave to the other.


5. “Next time ……………..“ (Positive Conclusion)
Examples: “Next time I am upset with you I will remember to use my words and not my fists.” “Next time I feel selfish I will try to be more sharing with you.” “Next time I feel like our game should go exactly how I want it to, I will try to reach a compromise and that way we will both be happy.”

The Counter Apology
Often, both children bear some fault in any given scuffle and the offended party quickly realizes that he or she owes a proper apology also for instigating the incident. MOST of the time they spontaneously offer this apology, but sometimes a gentle reminder is needed. We use the same process, but often omit the restitution step #4.

We don’t go through this process for an accidental hurt, but we do require that they fully apologize for what they did and come up with a positive conclusion.
Example: “I’m sorry for shutting the door on your foot. It was an accident. Next time I’ll try to be more careful and watch out for your toes. Will you forgive me please?”

BREAK TIME: Don’t get angry - take a break! Sitting ALONE on a chair in their room, no toys, music, stuffed animals etc.. Three minutes alone with God, praying for strength to do what is right. Repeat as needed!

Also, please note, A Proper Apology does not mean there are no concequences for the OFFENDER - they loose priveledges, have loving discipline and suffer the natural concequences for their sin, but somehow it all seems a bit easier after they have made A Proper Apology.



A Proper Apology
Looking directly at one another.
1. “I am sorry for ……………” (Inappropriate ACTION or WORDS)
2. “I was wrong to …………………(Name the SIN). I know my sin hurt you and did not please God.”
3. “Will you please forgive me for …….(Inappropriate ACTION or WORDS)?”
*** Humble acceptance of the apology by the offended person is required here.
4. “I’d like to help make it right by ……….. (Plan for simple restitution).”
5. “Next time ……………..“ (Positive Conclusion)

I suggest printing this on cardstock and placing it throughout your home until the children master the 5 steps of A Proper Apology.

9 comments:

  1. Heather ~ what a great post you shared with us all. I'm guessing that it's #5 that is the newest one your family added? All the points seem well thought out and are great training for your children as they work toward families of their own. Thank you!

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  2. Hi Deb! Yes - it is #5 - making a plan to 'do better next time' - sometimes the kids tend to feel like they will 'never get it right' and making a plan to do something differently the next time they are in the same situation just reinforces the idea that they can!

    Yesterday The Dreamer said to her little brother 'With God's help, I won't be such a bossy sister tomorrow!'. The cool thing is I can overhear them playing and she is tempted to be bossy 9 I can hear it in her voice), but she is really trying not to be! With God's help!
    I'm glad you found this post helpful!

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  3. This is wonderful, Heather! Thank you so much for sharing it with us, I will be sure to start the step by step apologies tomorrow!
    Kelli

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  4. I'm glad this is helpful to you Kelli! My children were getting in the habit of the no eye contact, no admission of fault, stare at the floor and grumble out something resembling an 'I'm sorry' which sounded a bit more like 'I hate you' to my tender mother heart. We started the first few steps about 2 years ago and have just been adding as God leads and gives wisdom concerning gracious conflict resolution! I hope it goes over well in your home and makes a difference in your children's relationships! blessings!

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  5. I came over from Kelli's site and you have a wonderful post in "A Proper Apology" - how very true are the sentiments and one's indeed in which even adults can aspire too.

    Blessings.

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  6. I think this is a great idea. I'm going to send it to my daughter to look at (although perhaps I should wait as she has her bags packed, ready for the new baby at any time...emphasis on waiting).

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  7. Awesome. We do some of the same things. I will definitly incorporate what you have written. It will be very helpful to remind them of the steps.... When they ask for forgiveness we have the other person say, "You are forgiven."

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  8. We also require an 'I forgive you' or 'you are fogiven' from the offended child right after Step #3.
    The other day The Dreamer was asking for forgiveness during her proper apology and suddenly her face brightened and she said, "Mommy - he forgave me when I really didn't deserve it - just like Jesus! Brother is being like Jesus!' and she did a little happy dance and hugged her brother!

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  9. Heather, I think this is an excellent tool for proper apologies. I talked to my husband about adding these additional steps, particularly the restitution.

    I'm also trying to email you your random questions if you'd like to participate in the game. Email me and let me know. Thanks again.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment! I so enjoy reading your comments when you kindly share your thoughts!