This skill is an important one for our children to learn. It is sometimes called restitution. It is about teaching our child how they can try to ‘fix up’, ‘correct’ or ‘make up for’ for their behaviour when it has impacted negatively on another person, persons or even an animal.
Teaching our child to ‘make amends’ for their behaviour
- Wait until we and our child are calm and there is a reasonably friendly mood between us and bring up the subject by asking permission to discuss it. E.g. “I’ve been thinking about what happened and I wonder if you would like talk about what you might like to do to make amends for what happened.” Or this conversation can also take place if the child approaches us first about it.
- If our child declines our request to discuss it ask if we can discuss it later and would they please come to us when they are ready.
- For our child to be able to fully engage in the discussion we need to remember to talk in a respectful manner in a warm and friendly tone. Thinking about our position as being beside them together looking for a solution rather than confronting them may be helpful in the way we approach this process.
- If the situation in which the behaviour took place involved another person whose behaviour first or secondly impacted negatively on them also, we need make sure that our child knows we understand that this is what occurred. Reassure them if this person is a family member e.g. brother or sister, that we can also have a similar discussion with them. However, at present we are trying to look for a solution about what they can do to make amends for it.
- Then ask child a question to help them begin to think of a solution
“What could you do to ‘make up’ for what you did?”
“What could you do to ‘fix it’ up with him?”
“How could you make this right again?”
“What kind of actions would ‘make up’ for it?”
“What could you do to ‘make up’ for accidentally breaking it?”
“How could you ‘make up’ for hurting her?”
“How could you ‘make up’ for taking it without asking?”
“What could you do to ‘fix up’ telling the lie?”
“How could you ‘make up’ for saying those things about him?
- If it appears that our child might appreciate our help to think of something they could do, again ask a question. For instance, “Would you like me to help you think up what you could do?”
- Below are some examples of solutions
- Saying a sincere sorry to sister.
- Making something for him.
- Offering to buy him a new one.
- Giving one of theirs to replace their sister’s one they lost.
- Doing some extra jobs for dad to say sorry to him.
- Apologizing to neighbour for breaking their window with the ball and asking if they could do some jobs for them to make up for it.
- Writing a letter to say sorry to the teacher for the disrespectful words they said to her.