Teaching Kids About the Words ‘I’m Sorry’

viral post

I’ve heard several teachers say something to the effect of “my students teach me more than I teach them,” and while I’m certain that is true on some level, I must say I’m thankful to have learned a ton from some really great teachers in my life. Nevertheless, we can all learn from the innocence and “tell it like it is” instincts of a child, and the viral post I’m about to share with you is a perfect example of that.

Earlier this week I stumbled upon a photo of a crushed plastic cup that had been posted to Facebook. A friend of mine shared it, which was why it was in my feed, but the original post, which is now a viral post, is by teacher Courtney Mccrea. The photo caught by eye because a picture of a crushed plastic cup seemed rather random, but after reading Mccrea’s explanation, I’ll certainly never forget this cup, or the lesson she’s passing on from a student. Under the photo of the crushed cup, Mccrea said:

viral post

Today, one of my students called another student a name. He immediately said sorry. Instead of the other student saying anything, she walked grabbed a cup and came back to the table. She smooshed the cup and said “sorry”. I could tell the other child was confused. She then said “I hurt the cup, but I said sorry. Did that fix it? No, so you saying sorry doesn’t fix what you said. Just don’t say or do hurtful things.”

I feel like I’ve learned not just one or two, but three lessons from this.

  1. When someone hurts you, you don’t have to react.

2. Sorry doesn’t fix things and I’m not sure why we think it does.

3. Kids listen to us more than we think.

WHEW! What a powerful illustration from a child! You’ve got to wonder how she came up with that one, because it is SPOT stinkin’ on and really made me think. Obviously, when we mess up and hurt someone, we should say that we’re sorry and seek forgiveness. But the damage is still done and requires healing. How much more amazing would it be if we had the self-control and discipline not to hurt others in the first place? I know we’re all human and mess up, but Mccrea’s viral post has me more determined than ever to watch my tongue and think before I speak.

The lessons Mccrea took away from her student’s illustration made me think as well. “One, when someone hurts you, you don’t have to react.” This is an excellent point about the fact that we are indeed responsible for our own behavior and reaction when someone hurts us. Our reactions will dictate whether or not we will inflict hurt in return for what has been done to said to us, or if we will seek to take the high road and turn the other cheek. We can’t control whether or not someone hurts us, but we can control whether our response deepens or lessens the hurt.

The second lesson, “Sorry doesn’t fix things,” is something all parents need to impart to their children. In truth, an apology is just a start to healing, a beginning of the healing process. When we hurt someone, even with just one word, it will take much more than just uttering two more words to fix it. It will take time and work.

Moms and Dads, if you’re reading this, I encourage you to show this viral post and this “crushed cup” example to your children. Our kids aren’t going to be kind and refrain from saying hurtful things to others unless we intentionally teach them not to. As I’ve said many times before, it’s 100% on US to do everything we can to make sure our children know that they are to treat others like they want to be treated. We’ve got to live by example, for sure, but we’ve also got to tell them what to do and pray that our words will take root. I think a powerful example like this from one of their peers will surely help that happen.

What do you think of Mccrea’s viral post? Do you agree, or not?


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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.