Child Cries Instead of Saying Sorry

by Isabelle
(Leiden Netherlands)

If my daughter (5 1/2) hurts her dad or myself (by mistake i.e her head hits your nose or something) instead of saying sorry as we ask her to do, she starts crying non-stop .

It is not because she is shocked to have created pain or frightened to have made us angry or so she says, but because she does not want to say that she is sorry.

I do not understand her thinking process, does anybody have some ideas or suggestions.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Jul 22, 2008
Child won't say sorry
by: mom who unbderstands

I have a 5-year old daughter who also did this. She also has HFA, a social and communication disorder. One day when she was crying and refusing to say sorry, i stopped and thought about this - does my child even understand what sorry means. I asked and to my surprise, she did not. I then explained it to her, and told her if it was an accident to say sorry it was an accident. She now says sorry. Your daughter may not truly understand the meaning of sorry and may think by saying it, she is admitting to doing something wrong.

Jul 04, 2008
Crying Instead of Saying Sorry
by: Laura Ramirez

The fact that your child cries when she hurts you tells me she needs to work on her sense of empathy for others. When she hurts you or your husband, she is more sorry for herself than she is for the person who she has injured.

Cultivate a sense of empathy by talking to your child. Tell her, "Ouch! You really hurt me!" Make a face that shows your pain.

Then ask her how she would feel if someone did to her what she just did to you.

If she starts crying and carrying on, breathe deeply and allow yourself to be present even though you may feel irritated.

When she's finished crying, tell her that it hurts you that her feelings for herself are bigger than her concern for you after she has hurt you. Tell her that when she hurts someone she loves, rather than cry about it, she will make things better (and make everyone feel better) by apologizing and doing something to make things right. Model what this would look like.

Beyond this, I suggest you read my parenting book which teaches parents how to raise children to have empathy and integrity and create a life that is an expression of their strengths. You also might want to read my special report on cultivating emotional intelligence in children.

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