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I have a relatively new member of staff who hasn't a lot of experience working in a setting and she is intent on making children say sorry if they do something to another child.

I have been working with her on praising children and being positive with them, but she isn't taking it on board and I feel she is bringing her own parenting skills into the setting. I have never been a huge fan of making children say sorry, rather I remind them for example that if they hit someone - what they did made the other child sad as they are crying, or I explain that if they have taken a toy from another child they need to share and take turns etc. and I also remind them periodically of our 'pre-school rules' which the children made.

Has anyone else had a similar situation?

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I am in complete agreement with your viewpoint MegaMum........I have never been a fan of the 'now say sorry' approach.....

Can only suggest that you explore this further with your staff member or perhaps make it an agenda item for your next Staff meeting......

Sorry not much help there

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I have to say that I disagree...I think society does require many of us to say sorry at times when we don't really mean it, and I see no reason why the children shouldn't be taught this very basic social grace. That said, I do first explain to the child at fault what they have done, why it is not appropriate and how it has had a negative effect on someone else, and then I ask for the sorry.

 

To me its a bit like saying thank you when you don't really mean it, or good morning when actually its a terrible morning etc.

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I have to say that I disagree...I think society does require many of us to say sorry at times when we don't really mean it, and I see no reason why the children shouldn't be taught this very basic social grace. That said, I do first explain to the child at fault what they have done, why it is not appropriate and how it has had a negative effect on someone else, and then I ask for the sorry.

 

To me its a bit like saying thank you when you don't really mean it, or good morning when actually its a terrible morning etc.

Yes, I agree with this too.

The children are usually willing to apologise - just the occasional 'stubborn' child who, despite encouragement, will NOT apologise!

There does seem, to my mind, to be a decided lack of social graces (and it's not just down to my age) - especially with manners i.e. saying 'please' and 'thank you'.

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Sorry EYFS1966 ... I do not agree with saying sorry if you don't mean it. Neither would I think to say thank you if I didn't mean it. I think this is where the 'social grace' has gone from society. I regularly thank people for things they have done, people who have said a kind word etc. and believe it should come from the heart and not be a rote response.

I believe young children learn social skills with us and if they are guided in what is right and wrong, then in time they learn cause and effect of their behaviour and have an understanding of what saying sorry means rather than it being a random response of meaningless words to a 2 or 3 year old. Case in point, I have a boy in my setting that thinks nothing of hurting another child because he believes saying an immediate sorry justifies his behaviour.

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I think in your position MegaMum, I would suggest as Sunnyday has said, have that staff meeting and say that you all need to have exactly the same responses as a staff team, and thrash this out, come up with exactly the phrase, or response you want all your staff to say.

 

I like to say something along the lines of, "you can see that ........ is very upset and crying because she/he has been hurt, if you would like to make them feel better and cheer them up what could you say or do? (if we need help with this) .....you could say that you are sorry for .........., or give them a hug, as long as the upset child wants that!!! I find it is my parents who often say, you must say sorry, I want you to make him say sorry if and when he/she upsets or hurts someone,

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This is an interesting discussion. I personally think manners are important in terms of please and thank you's.

We generally talk with the child about how their action has upset the other child, and if age appropriate suggest they go and say sorry.

Always explaining it's the hurting action that we are displeased, upset by, or sad, not the child.themselves.

However saying sorry for sorry sake can almost be a learnt phrase that some children feel exonerates them from their actions and they continue to repeat them.

Good advice about having a code of conduct that all staff will use in these situations.

I have also used the technique of asking the children what they feel we should do when someone is hurt, often using our toy dog as the " hurt child" this has worked well in some instances.:)

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While manners are important once you become older, for the age of the children we're working with, they're nothing to them. They're an abstract concept. You can't see a please or feel a thank you, so how can they make sense of it?

 

They're not something we should be teaching them; they're something we should be modelling to them as the positive influence in the life.

 

Same with sorry. They don't understand it and the focus should be more based on the idea of the effects of their actions upon emotions and how it can be resolved.

 

It's actually something we discussed in a staff meeting last night.

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While manners are important once you become older, for the age of the children we're working with, they're nothing to them. They're an abstract concept. You can't see a please or feel a thank you, so how can they make sense of it?

 

They're not something we should be teaching them; they're something we should be modelling to them as the positive influence in the life.

 

Same with sorry. They don't understand it and the focus should be more based on the idea of the effects of their actions upon emotions and how it can be resolved.

 

It's actually something we discussed in a staff meeting last night.

But aren't we always teaching abstract concepts? We refer to phonemes, shapes and ... everything really! Most things we talk about are abstract, but it doesn't stop us from using the language with them; I want to continue this discussion, but it's 10.45 p.m. and I've loads still to do!

Goodnight -_-

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In an ideal world we'd all say sorry when needed but if we don't, or if a child won't what then? I saw a child sat next to an adult for the best part of playtime because he wouldn't say sorry. She made it into a personal battle and I'm very glad to say she no longer works with children, although not because of this.

You have to be very clear on what's next if they won't apologise, will it turn into something way past the childs understanding and will it be mentioned over anf over, to collegies, carer on collection?

You have to know each child well enough too. Some say sorry as a learned response, that's fine, the understanding will come. Some say sorry when the purpose is explained to them but some won't, for love or money because the adult has put them on the spot. Used the right way, sorry is important.

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Making right what they've done wrong is important, yes I agree, but we need to have young children do it in a way they can understand and relate to else it's meaningless to them.

 

At our setting, we push the idea that they've made their friend upset and we need to do something to change that. We're now focusing on not using the word "sorry" but dealing with the more emotions side of it.

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We say sorry for accidents- bumping to someone running, elbowing when in construction etc... not big fuss just a 'ophs sorry' type comment, often role-modelled by an adult.

 

For an incident - sorry in never used, however we talk about feelings and emotions. The victim is treated away from the situation by different staff member.

I have huge issues with what messages we put across about saying sorry for premeditated action- ok- bit of a strong word there, maybe an unprovoked act?

Are we teaching from a young age that violence is acceptable if followed by a 'sorry' ..............

Dad hits mum at home- but he always says sorry so that really isn't a problem? = violence is norm

When I grow up I can hit my partner............as long as I say sorry? = violence is acceptable

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I think the converse is actually true..rather than teaching sorry makes everything ok. actually we are saying sorry for our actions that have hurt/upset others ie, accepting resonsibility for the action.

 

If a child is old enough to say hello/goodbye, and old enough to be talked to about feelings and emotions, then I fail to see why they can't grasp the word sorry

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Yes - but they can be very quick to learn that saying sorry is a quick and easy option, therefore embedded the knowledge that it's still ok to hurt someone as long as you say sorry.

 

To be honest I think all cases need to be looked at on a one-by-one basis. No one is ever going to have the 'correct' format.

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Interesting debate. I think it's about getting the balance right and not all children have same level of understanding and perhaps a generic policy of saying sorry (or not as the case may be ) is not the answer.

My concern is that children (some!) see the word 'sorry' as some sort of magic word a bit like a licence to do what they like as long as the 'sorry' is said afterwards!

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Mmm, we encourage our children to apologise after we explain the consequences of their actions and encourage them to say sorry for their actions, this reinforces it ' I'm sorry that I pinched you and hurt you' , children and adults should understand that apologising is a type of manner , I agree that some children automatically say it and often don't understand it's meaning or say it as they think it's means it's ok to do something that is not kind etc. but let's not get all fluffy , I think that is what is wrong with many young adults , children and society in general , not being sorry for our actions especially when they are done with intent ! Sorry seems to be the hardest word but let's not let it disappear from our vocabulary !

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A very interesting debate!

I just wanted to add that in terms of 'speech and language' it is important that we don't complicate issues when we are dealing with inappropriate behaviour. If we use over-complicated questions or demands then this actually detracts away from the actual message we want to get across. So if we end up with a child who won't say sorry then we have lost the original message.

I agree that It is about knowing the child - every child has a different experience of using sorry and of course, hearing sorry being used in the right contexts.

Green Hippo x

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