The Big Barn Preschools Philosophy on saying “I’m Sorry”

Children age 3-6 do not understand exactly what it feels like to be sorry and most of the time they do something to another child or adult they do it on purpose to convey their feelings.
When something makes a child upset or angry and they react. Maybe they yell, hit, push or even bite. This for a preschool age is normal (except the biting that is extreme). Children this age don’t take a minute to look at a situation and think “Maybe that was an accident.” Children just react. That is where the teacher or parent has to step in and explain.

Here is a possible situation:

Johnny is playing with the blocks and Suzy runs by and knocks his tower over. Suzy wasn’t looking where she was going, she didn’t do it on purpose but Johnny doesn’t see it that way and pushes Suzy down. The teacher has seen the whole thing. She brings Johnny and Suzy together and askes them what happened. Johnny says Suzy is mean and knocked his building down. Suzy says no I am not mean! I didn’t see it. Then the teacher will help them with their words. She needs to remind Suzy how we move inside. “We walk says Suzy.” That’s right, were you walking? “No” Suzy says. That is why you didn’t see his building. Is that right? “Yes”, says Suzy. Listening to this Johnny hears she didn’t do it on purpose, but he is still mad. Should they be made to say sorry?
Either child feels sorry. Instead of saying sorry we would encourage them to Talk about their feelings and say they will be more careful in the future. Johnny needs to be able to express he is still mad. The staff would ask Suzy how she can help Johnny feel better? Even suggest she help him rebuild the tower. This way Johnny feels better and Suzy learns to feel compassion and how to help when she makes someone upset.
Making Suzy say sorry wouldn’t teach her this. It only teaches her the correct and publicly scripted words.
At The Big Barn we are trying to teach the children to not only be responsible for their actions but to learn their actions have consequences. Making someone feel better after we hurt then either physically or emotionally is one of the most important things we can teach. The word “Sorry” is an adult word that has no meaning to a child. We need to teach how to be sorry before we teach the word or that word has no meaning.

Bonnie Kasman, Director

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