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It’s All in the Ask

​This information is included in our Guide to Parenting for Today's Family. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

Your grandkids won’t always ask for things or permission the way they’re supposed to. Then, when you correct the behavior, they’re not always sure how to apologize. Using these tips when you teach these skills can help your grandchild learn to ask before acting, and to say “sorry” when he or she forgets!

  • Give children reasons why asking for permission and making sincere apologies are necessary skills they need to learn and use. Reasons could include: Asking adults for permission makes it more likely they will say “yes” now or later and helps kids stay out of trouble. Making apologies helps maintain good relationships, helps others forgive the mistake and makes it less likely the child will remember to ask for permission the next time. For example, say to your grandchild: “Asking me for permission will keep you out of trouble. The more often you ask for something appropriately, the better the chance there is I’ll say ‘yes.’ If you forget to ask, saying you’re sorry lets me know that you know you should have asked and that you will try harder to remember in the future.”​
  • Teach children to accept responsibility for their own behavior and actions. For example, if your grandchild spills the milk on the table because he didn’t ask you if he could pour it, encourage your child to say, “Sorry. I spilled the milk.” This helps children learn to admit to their mistakes instead of finding fault with others or making excuses.
  • Make a conscious effort to model the skills of asking and apologizing for your grandchildren. For example, ask your grandchild for permission to do something – “May I please use your pen?” Also, genuinely say you are sorry when you make a mistake or do something you regret in front of your grandkids.
  • Thank and praise your grandchildren when they ask you for permission.
  • Teach your young grandchildren that their actions affect others. For example: “If you pull on a cat’s tail, it will hurt and the cat will cry. If you pet him nicely, the cat will purr.”
  • Explain to your grandkids that being sorry is an action, not just an expression. Sometimes saying they are sorry won’t be enough to rebuild trust or fix a problem. Teach them to make amends by saying they are sorry and admitting to what they have done wrong. Then help them come up with a plan to either correct the problem or prevent the same mistake again.
  • When your grandchild doesn’t ask permission or won’t say he or she is sorry, deliver consistent consequences. Children need to know where the line in the sand is and what will happen to them if they choose to cross that line. When their misbehavior or rule-breaking hurts someone or disrupts the home, have them make an apology before they can resume normal activities or regain privileges.
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