When Saying You’re Sorry Isn’t Enough

Dave and I had an interesting talk this morning. His job takes him to schools all over the state, and he said he’s having a hard time watching how they deal with bullying. He said the idea that you make the kids say they’re sorry to each other doesn’t work, because you’re not addressing the bad behavior. Instead, you’re just teaching the child to say a word that lets them off the hook.

I had to agree. Older Son just had a dust-up last week where he had to say he was sorry to an aggressor. In typical fashion – and this is the way it happens everywhere, school hallways, workplaces, professional sports – the aggressor picks the fight, the target responds, the person in charge sees the response rather than the attack, and punishes the target.

I have previously written about making kids say they’re sorry, and I should probably clarify my stance in that post. While I think we should be modeling and teaching kids how to say they’re sorry, it may not always be the best solution.

The ideal situation would be if you know the kids (and if they truly care and are motivated by making each other feel better), and what happened, and who needs to say sorry to who, and if saying sorry will fix it or if the aggressor needs a consequence. If you can fairly judge all that, then go for it. “I’m sorry” may be just the thing.

And in the un-ideal situation, which happens 95% of the time, “I’m sorry” won’t cut it, especially if the wrong party is forced to say it. Talk about subjugation.

We should keep in mind that there will always be Eddie Haskells:

And Chets:

And Heathers:


I have to go back to what I always say when it comes to teaching kids how to deal with all these people and personalities. Stay out of the way when you can. If you can’t, then just worry about yourself. Don’t worry about what they did, or what they got away with, or how unfair it is. They know how to play the system and probably always will. There may be nothing you can do about it. Just protect yourself and remember not to do the same thing to the next person.

That’s the best I’ve come up with for my boys (besides enrolling one of them in tae kwon do). What do you think? How do we teach our children to deal with bullies? Any suggestions (besides going to school and passing out the beat-downs) would be greatly appreciated.

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3 thoughts on “When Saying You’re Sorry Isn’t Enough

  1. Pingback: Can Good Behavior Be Taught? | Sitting On The Baby

  2. Just scrolling through your blog and being reminded of all the reasons I love you- I can hear your voice reading this and I remember very specific times in my life that I had your voice in my ear- such sanity, practical common sense, such compassion and most importantly truth; in who I was. Who we were. What we were made of. Funny that all these years later you’re ‘teaching’ others the same lessons you were practicing so many years ago. I’ve learned and I am sure you have to, that sometimes you just have to give people the answer- you just have to point the common sense out. Keep fightin the good fight and keep spreading the words of peace and love and light- we’re out here and we hear you!!!

    • Can’t reply…running to get tissues… Dani, who almost literally carried me through high school, I remember why I love you too, and I hope you know you did the SAME for me many times over the years. (BTW I think you win the award for best!!! comment!!!! ever!!!) What a way to start my day – now I have to try to shrink my head and go about my business. And when I feel like giving up I’m calling YOU! Much love always D!

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