Sorry seems to be the hardest word…

…unless you are four and it means absolutely sod all.

Teaching kids manners, courtesy and societal norms is one of the biggest responsibilities of being a parent. But it doesn’t come without it’s challenges. Like any animal the natural urge is to snatch and grab and push and shove and thwack people over the back of the head with Buzz Lightyear.

Even as an adult, knowing right from wrong, it is hard sometimes not to wonder about kicking irritating people in the shins for, well being irritating. But we don’t because it’s not nice and it’s also a bit illegal, especially if you don’t make it look like a shopping trolley accident.

Instead we learn that the correct action is to smile sweetly and make small talk – ‘Oh no of course that’s fine, no I don’t mind AT ALL!’ – before going home for a good old fashioned bitch.

In our house we try and operate a no snatching, hitting, pushing or saying nasty things to each other policy which is REALLY successful every other Tuesday for 10 minutes if there is an adequate supply of biscuits and Spiderman is on the tellie.

The rest of the time it’s more like…cry1So I’ll be like ‘Hey it’s not nice to hit your brother about the head’ and he’ll be like ‘BUT HE WAS RUINING MY GAME!!!!!!!!!!!’

And then I’ll be like ‘Well I don’t care, come and tell me, don’t just hit him! Say you’re sorry please!’ And he’ll be like…notsorryAnd I’ll be stood there thinking – hey is this kid really sorry? Just because, I don’t know, he doesn’t really look that sorry and he almost, kind of like, sang that apology. I mean he may as well have been doing the can-can whilst releasing party poppers, such was the atmosphere of general exuberance.

So it seems the problem here is two fold:-

1. How to teach kids to appear sorry
2. How to teach kids to actually BE sorry

I’ve talked a little before about my worries of raising a sociopath and we are still working on encouraging empathy for others…



So I try the rational concept of comeuppance. Do unto others etc etc.


And as it works out karma is indeed a total bitch, often wielding a big plastic guitar.

And sometimes that’s the only way to learn…toy



P.S. I have a new book OUT NOW! You can nab it on Amazon here or in your lovely local bookshop :)


20 thoughts on “Sorry seems to be the hardest word…

  1. Jenny

    Oh Katie you have me in stitches. I just had this fight with Buba the other day about saying sorry. And he literally just shouts it at his sister like he doesn’t mean it and it’s venom coming out of his mouth like I am not sorry and will get you again type shout. I guess I am totally failing at the teaching manners hahaha I even tried a few of these tactics to all failing sometimes like my momma says they have to learn the hard way. Karma is a bitch but a good one sometimes. Love this.

  2. Maddie Sinclair

    Yep. We’re pretty resigned to the fact that Gammon will one day get smashed in the face by a 5 year old at school. It may be the turning point. Nothing else has bloody worked up until now! Thanks for the cards by the way! They’re fab! Let me know if you have any free afternoons after school any time soon – would love to catch up in the park with the kids. We can do a field study on the irritating effects of excess energy in boys. DM me on Twitter if you fancy it. xoxo

  3. Izzie Anderton

    Wow… so funny! I had huge pangs of recognition from way back when my twin daughters were little and have to say now that they’re all grown up they’ve learnt (finally) how to behave. Here’s hoping your brood get the gist of this eventually – good luck x

  4. Sarah MumofThree World

    Do your kids want to come round and hit mine with a plastic guitar. My eldest is very good at saying sorry. Because he thinks its’s like an excuse. We’ve been working on the ‘not doing it in the first place is better than saying sorry’ principle for about 10 years now. He’d better not go too near his brother or sister when they’re pushing a shopping trolley or he may get his comeuppance.

  5. Maria M

    How true! i have a 6 yr old girl and 19 mth old boy. He wants whatever she picks up or is doing and if not then he stands over her/on her/hits her/pushes her or just screams!
    She then screams/pushes/pounces back.
    I’m soooooo over it so maybe i just send them to you for training???

  6. Amy Ransom

    My girls beat each other up all the time. Did I say beat? I meant kick each other really politely. Yesterday I asked the 3 year old how she’d feel if the 5 year old pulled her hair. And she said ‘Happy’ before asking me if she could go and sit on the naughty step.

    And THAT is why I drink gin out of a can.

    Fab, Katie :)

  7. teacuptoria

    Hehe love this! They do that kids don’t they, say sorry sweetly when you can see in their evil eyes that they are only complying so they can get back to whatever they were up to fast. That’s the clever ones anyway. Who likes saying sorry though, I’m rubbish at it. Admit that I’ve done something wrong?…ooo no.

  8. Carry On Katy

    Never has my 5 yr old smiled so widely as when he is saying ‘ sorrrrreeeee’. I may as well use the opportunity to grab a brush and give his teeth a good clean next time he does it…its the only time his teeth are ever exposed.
    He has a guitar on the head coming his way soon. The little one is getting stockier by the day. And it won’t be a toy one. My husband is a guitarist and we have an abundance of heavy guitars lying around. I smell a hospital visit on the horizon.
    Hilarious post!x

  9. Sam

    I think I must have been banging on about saying sorry rather a lot lately as my two year old now apologises randomly when he hasn’t even done anything. Actually I think he apologises even when he’s the victim – which, let’s face it, is the British way isn’t it? Someone treads on your foot on the train and you apologise to them for having such an enormous foot. Etc. Good work. Try harder. It’ll work out in the end. :-)

  10. Kath s {isitwineoclockyet}

    We have the same issues. This week we have several ‘come and talk to mummy’ moments about being polite and manners and it’s only Tuesday! Arrggghhhh!
    Seen as no one listens I reckon we give up till their 28 and blow the consequences

  11. Life at the Little Wood

    Oh Katie, do you do travelling workshops?? My three are driving me INSANE this week with the bickering. Properly mental! I need some of this wisdom! :) xx

  12. Tim

    This is so true, Katie! Our kids get on well most of the time but when there’s a falling out the amount of finger-pointing, whining, buck-passing and “but HE started it” is really quite impressive. It’s almost like they’ve been trained in the art of being a politician …

  13. Jess Paterson

    So with you on the totally un-heartfelt sorry. Mind you, I often say sorry and totally don’t mean it. E.g. Oh sorry, I just finished the prosecco, did you want some? Great post, Katie! xx

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  15. Eline @ Pasta & Patchwork

    This reminder me of a situation we had with my cousins daughters a few years ago: Big hits Little, Mum tries to teach empathy by saying it doesn’t make Little happy. How does Big respond? “But it makes ME happy”… SO I think we’re pretty stuffed with this teaching empathy business and red plastic guitars are indeed the only way they’ll learn.


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