Your 4 3/4-year-old: Saying "I'm sorry"

Your 4 3/4-year-old: Saying

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Your 4-year-old now

Learning the words "I'm sorry" comes faster than the genuine feeling behind it. You can't force your child to feel remorseful. Fours are learning to feel and show empathy, a key ingredient to a sincere apology. Egocentrism — thinking about herself foremost — still dominates your child's thinking, though. She won't reliably be able to see a situation from someone else's perspective until age 6 or 7. That said, your 4-year-old is capable of knowing when she's done something wrong that's hurt someone. (Witness the red face, sad demeanor, or guilty look.)

Try these ideas to teach your child about apologies:

  • Replace words with actions. Rather than insisting on muttering, "Sorry," teach your child to make amends. A gesture of apology — a hug or shaking hands — holds concrete meaning. So does cleaning up what was broken, picking up what was thrown, and so on.
  • Model verbal apologies yourself. Your child will learn by repetition.
  • Encourage apologies between fighting friends rather than taking charge yourself. Say something like, "Is there something you want to say to each other?" Or, if they haven't caught on to verbal apologies, "How can you make each other feel better about this?"
  • Use positive reinforcement. When you see your child offering an apology and accepting responsibility for her actions, point it out and praise it.

Your life now

If you're a tea drinker, you already know the astonishing variety available even in your neighborhood grocery. Tea is also safe for your preschooler to drink, provided you choose carefully. Stick to caffeine-free herbal tea, preferably served without sugar or honey added. Many flavors, such as mint or citrus, have a naturally sweet taste. Serve tea slightly cooled or chilled as iced tea. This makes a tasty soda substitute without caffeine, sugar, or calories. Tea shouldn't replace milk, of course.

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