5 Tips for Kids on Writing Apology Notes

We’ve weathered our fair share of apology note writing at our house. Just off the top of my head, our topics have included hitting, head butting, face flicking, and nut punching. Not to make you jealous, but we’re very, very experienced apologizers. It’s important as a parent, I think, to lead the charge by screwing up at least once a day — more if you can manage it — and then apologizing so your kid can see by example how it’s done.

Coincidentally, my kid wrote an apology note just last night.

It went like this:

photo (36)

Dear _____,

Sorry for hitting you with the hole hop and sorry for hitting you MORE THEN ONCE.

So.

That was a fun family evening.

Given the fact that some of you are new to the parent gig and may not have as much expertise in this area, I thought I might offer some assistance. Some advice. Some guidelines. Some tips. Longtime parents like to do this sort of thing from time to time to convince ourselves we’ve learned something. Anything at all, really. Bear with us, OK? Be kind. Our advice may be obvious, but we need to give it.

5 Tips for Kids on Writing Apology Notes

  1. Say you’re sorry. It looks like this: “I am sorry.” I know it’s a terrible thing to have to do, kid, but everyone owes an apology from time to time. Suck it up. Get it done. Move on. It will prepare you for paying bills someday.
  2. Say what the apology is for. For example, “I am sorry I ended the last sentence with a preposition.” Make sure the letter recipient knows you understand what you did. It’s a stand-up thing to do, it helps diffuse anger, and, believe it or not, you’ll feel better when you admit where you were wrong.
  3. Don’t excuse your behavior with if’s or but’s. Not even when you have a really good reason for what you did. For example, “If you hadn’t stolen my colored pencil, you Mean Stealing Stealer Who Steals, I wouldn’t’ve had to flick you in the FACE” might better be expressed screaming into your pillow than in writing. Stuff in writing can come back to bite you. Don’t make it worse.
  4. Spell words correctly. Like “hula hoop” which is spelled H-U-L-A  H-O-O-P and is definitely not spelled H-O-L-E  H-O-P. Baby, it’s important for you to know I’m willing to talk to you about anything. Anything at all. That’s my commitment as your mama. Open communication. Answering questions to the very best of my ability. But, for both our sakes, can we wait on this one a few years? Yes? Oh, thank God.
  5. Express your commitment not to do it again. And then don’t do it again.

……….

P.S. “And then don’t do it again.” Hahahahahaha! I’m 39 years into attempts on that one. No luck yet. But if this apology thing was easy, everyone would be doing it.

……….

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
13 comments
  1. We don’t often write our apologies, but within the last few months we have begun to require “complete, three-part apologies” The first two parts are similar to yours, but the third is an offer to make things right rather than a promise to never do it again. Making things right can be as simple as fetching an ice pack or cleaning a mess, but it could also be something more complex.
    Perhaps in another few years – say, when the median age of children in my house is 10 or 11, we will add the bit previously mentioned about recognizing the impact on the other person.

  2. I must say the most thing about this apology letter—and the recipient should immediately forgive the wrong-doer—is the “sorry”. It’s bold and beautiful and as Erica commented, the y’s! They are something.
    That beautifully written “sorry” would suffice.

    1. Thanks, Emily. I agree, the wrong-doer did right by this letter. Other than the hole hopping. But otherwise spot on.

  3. We must take a moment to acknowledge how beautiful those “y’s” are. I mean, wow, that’s a sure sign of an excellent upbringing, curling around your y’s on your correspondence. Hula Hoop On, young Bartleby.

    1. Absolutely, Erica! Everyone knows that pretty apologies are the most sincere. 😉

  4. I also have my students pick something especially nice to do for that person in an attempt to “make up for” what they did wrong.

    1. I’d pick ice cream.

      No. A hot bath.

      No. Some time alone.

      No. A beer.

      No. A new, brain candy novel.

      SOMEONE HURRY UP AND WRONG ME.

  5. I once heard a person say she was going to apologize to a lady, but first ask to be reminded just what she was going to apologize for. Of course, that was before said person had five kids to teach how to apologize.

    1. See? That future mama of 5 understood the importance of Tip #2… always say what you’re apologizing for. What a wise, wise woman. 😉

  6. “And then don’t do it again”…Not even once? Just for closure? Sigh. That need for closure netted me more than one spanking in my early childhood. Even when I explained “that was going to be the last time.” Watch out for hereditary tendencies there.

    1. Hehehe. This kid is more an opportunistic whacker than a just-one-more-time whacker. If no one’s looking, HELLO, OPPORTUNITY! But I’ll keep and eye on the just-one-more-time kids, too. I might sympathize with them just a little. 😉

  7. I love it! I’m a school teacher and I often have students write apology notes to each other when the situation warrants it. I also have them include what they could have done to prevent whatever situation did occur and how did it affect the other person. This way they have to think about their role in the situation and then come up with an alternative so that it won’t happen again.

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