General Question

Yellowdog's avatar

How does a child, under age eight, say that they accept an apology when someone did them wrong?

Asked by Yellowdog (10523points) July 12th, 2019

“Apology accepted” could be used for children age eight and older.

But seriously, those words actually need explanation for younger children. To brush it off as, “that’s okay” actually brushes it off as if it was nothing. That’s really not forgiveness.

This story involves a boy and a girl who are about six years old. The girl hurt the boy first (socially/emotionally) and the boy overdid his revenge—and WANTS to apologize—and is going to.

But what does the girl say in return, when she accepts the apology? I’ve coached the boy as to what to say. I know both families better than they know each other. Both children want to be friends again (its been about 3 weeks since the original altercation).

I work with school-age kids on a volunteer basis (worked with them full time for over 25 years)—but never children this young. Older kids can use the right words naturally and either be friends again and go their own way. These children are younger and both the boy and the girl really want to be friends again but don;t know how to face each other.

I can give more details in one of the responses, because I’ve seen and heard both sides to this story.

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18 Answers

Cupcake's avatar

“Thank you for apologizing” or “I forgive you”. They can also add, “I hope that you do not [fill in with specifics] to me again. That was very hurtful.”

I also coach children (and adults) to not say “that’s OK”.

Some self reflection and her own apology may be appropriate, depending on the circumstances.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Ask an 8 year old. Otherwise it’s just guesswork,

But let him or her answer, don’t put words in their mouth.

jca2's avatar

I’d say forcing a kid to say something elaborate is not appropriate. “It’s ok” would be good enough for me, coming from a child. If you’re going to sit them down and lecture them and try to get them to say something that they really can’t comprehend, then it’s going to upset them and maybe even traumatize them.

Yellowdog's avatar

That’s why I asked the question.

Kids often don’t know what to say. Trust me, they want to say SOMETHING.

Yellowdog's avatar

egad, why are some of you so negative?

No one is “lecturing” anyone.

I’m trying to get them work through something “traumatic” to them.

Hmmm… the kids were sort of sweethearts since around Easter.

Early this summer, the girl sided with a group of kids who regularly torment/ bully the boy.—probably because she wanted to be on the “cool” side. I asked about this question earlier in the summer because I’ve seen it all my life, and experienced it myself, on the receiving end, as a young teenager.

The boy missed his little “girlfriend” for three or four weeks. She had pretty much turned against him, or went along with the crowd. I tried to help him brush it off. Get over it.

At a game / activity at a church event where paddles were used, while some had started in on the boy, the boy hit the girl with the paddle and tried to make it look like an accident, for which he was dealt with appropriately.

But the girl wanted to see him after it happened. I didn’t hear the first part of what she said but concluded with “that really hurt!”

(I think she was also hurt for the first time that her former friend would do something like this to her)

The boy should have apologized then. But we don’t make them, and the entire meeting was voluntary and requested by the girl, who was wanting an apology I think, and to be friends again.

The boy didn’t apologize. He only replied, loudly, “Why do you HATE me?”

To which the girl replied, “I don’t HATE you!”

Again, missing the mark, the boy didn’t apologize but asked something like “What do you want?”

The girl just told him to go away.

I happen to know the families of both kids, and the kids themselves enough to know that they want to be friends again.

The normal, natural thing people would say on Fluther would just let them drift apart.

But they both like each other, and need to learn reconciliation. The boy knows what he wants to say. The girl doesn’t or probably doesn’t and won’t face him because (and only because) she does not know what to say. Also, the girl had been badly mistreating the boy for several weeks, which hurt him deeply. Even though she always liked him, and now wants to be friends again.

Reconciliation can be a beautiful thing, even for children. Lets not discount it.


jca2's avatar

@Yellowdog: I didn’t say you were lecturing anyone.

I’m laid back, so I think letting the kids’ discussion take its course without much intervention is the way to go. That’s all I’m saying.

Yellowdog's avatar

Okay, thanks. And apologies. I get a lot of negativity on Fluther.

ucme's avatar

Kids that young don’t need to say anything in situations like that. They simplify things & would just smile, shrug it off & carry on playing & being friends.

nerdgirl578's avatar

I don’t know what she “should” say but it sounds to me the girl hurt the boy more than he hurt her, so some sort of apology on her part as well might be a good idea? Even if they’re only 6.

flutherother's avatar

If they say sorry to each other that should about do it. The long term problem is the bullying that has apparently been going on for some time. My suggestion would be to divide the group doing the bullying into teams and put the bullied boy into one of the teams and see how that goes.

kritiper's avatar

They say it because an adult told them to and they assume it’s the right thing to do.

Yellowdog's avatar

@flutherother is right—the girl sided with some kids that were bullying the boy. She actually DID hurt him worse, first. Gosh knows why she sided with the bullies or tormentors, except, maybe siding with the “in” crowd so that they don’t mistreat her also. At that age, best friends can be stolen. Go figure

I suspect she WILL apologize to him when he apologizes. He hurt her physically more than I think he intended, and wants to extend the olive branch. I think its kind of chivalrous for the injured party. especially the boy, to reach out first—especially since he really wants to.

JLeslie's avatar

I didn’t read the other answers. She can say whatever is natural for her. “It’s ok,’ or, “thank you for saying you’re sorry.” and then they can play.

They’re only 6. Young children usually forgive and forget easily.

Going through the motions of the apology is good, ESPECIALLY for the boy who did something bad. Even with him, being only 6, just a simple “I’m sorry I X” might be enough, but I don’t know what he did.

Edit: I just read the post above mine. They both owe each other an apology then. Either one can go first, but the real trick here is for the other to apologize as well once apologized to. This is what my husbands family doesn’t do, and I find it horrible. When someone apologizes to them, and both sides have done hurtful things, they take the apology as an admission that the other person was wrong and they are free and clear and right and have no responsibility in a situation. It’s terrible in my opinion, and not helpful in forming strong relationships. Everything is black and white to them.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Maybe she should say “I accept your apology & forgive you for what you did. I also would like to apologize to you for my part in this whole thing & hope you can forgive me. I’d like to be friends again if that’s OK with you. Can we start over as friends & be nicer to each other next time???”

Actually, IF you leave them alone, I bet they work it out between themselves. An apology from the heart is much better than a contrived adult driven apology that meas nothing.!!!

Patty_Melt's avatar

I think, “I understand” would serve well. That gives the transgressor an acceptance without belittling the offense.

Possibly paired with I’m sorry too.

Yellowdog's avatar

Well, it looks like it will be resolved between them on Saturday afternoon with six crunchy tacos from Taco Bell and he wants to give flowers, also. I told his parents that if he starts to chicken out regarding the flowers, encourage him to do it anyway because she will like it. Who knows? It may start a lifelong habit of giving flowers to reconcile misunderstandings and to say one is sorry.

If they were older, and if it were cooler, I’d recommend a friendly Pickle Ball game as well, since it was a pickle-ball paddle he hit her with. Striking one’s ex-companion with sports equipment is a notch more serious than her being mean to him and siding with bullies, since a paddle can do serious bodily damage. So maybe they should stay away from Pickle Ball as a reminder—of an event traumatic for both of them.

BTW she wants to apologize to him, too—very mature for six year olds who haven’t even started first grade.

I’ve worked with kids long enough to have seen them grow up and have kids of their own. Several, as a pastor, I’ve married to each other. Even though I’ve never had kids of my own, I am glad to be able to help in these situations, especially when the families don’t know each other that well. Makes me feel like Burl Ives in some movie or T.V. special.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

However you teach them to.

Yellowdog's avatar

Well, so far, all I know is—he wanted to give flowers and was (as I expected) almost too scared to. I encouraged him to do it even though he might be afraid to (too shy) but that SHE would really like them.

He went through with it, and also with some food from Taco Bell which is her favorite.

He apologized first and her response was simply “I forgive you. Do you forgive me?”

She was kind of cool towards him for a little while but maybe just didn’t know what to say. Hopefully this will work out between them.

As traumatic as your childhood sweetheart turning against you must be, its also traumatic to be struck with sports equipment, even if it wasn’t THAT severe. I hope she doesn’t hold this against him and be kinda afraid of him doing something like this again. These kids really like each other. I know he didn’t intend to hurt her as much as he did. even though the injury was not serious. Maybe that’s why she was still a little cool towards him.

Reconciliation is a beautiful thing, if it lasts. More often then not, beautiful moments like this are eventually forgotten for all time.

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