Parents know the importance of a sincere apology. Perhaps that is why we teach our children to say they are sorry when they have done or said something that inconveniences or hurts another. Sometimes, however, offering an apology is only the beginning. Our children need to learn this lesson too. Kids need to understand that sometimes they will need to go beyond giving a sincere verbal apology.

For example, sometimes a direct response is needed in certain situations. If a child has broken a toy or ruined a sibling’s building project, the broken toy may need to be replaced or the sibling helped with rebuilding the toppled project.

Sometimes a situation may demand a relational response to express regret and help repair hurt feelings. Children need to learn how to empathize and attune to another person’s feelings. Perhaps your child has disrespected a confidence given by a friend or sibling. Then your child will need to think about and show that he or she has given more thought to how the other person might have felt or is still feeling. Maybe a drawing, an act of kindness, or a written letter of apology is needed to mend the relationship. You want to help your child learn to repair a relationship that has had some disruption.

If your child is going to learn how to make things right from a place of sincerity, he or she needs to understand how the other person is feeling and why the person might be upset. As you help your child go beyond an apology, you are teaching him or her about empathy and attuning to another person’s feelings.