Beyond the Words “I’m Sorry”

Beyond the Words “I’m Sorry”IT’S EASY FOR CHILDREN to say “I’m sorry” without really meaning it. So, how do we guide our young ones to move beyond the rote repetition of “sorry” to something more meaningful? How do we help them behave differently in the future?

These questions are particularly timely as we approach Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

As puts it, one of the overarching themes of the High Holidays is introspection. "From the beginning to the end of the holiday, we are meant to be thinking about affecting positive change in our lives and making amends with others," the website writes.

But what does that mean for parents?

Parenting blogger Sarah Zadok has a message for Jewish parents: ‘Sorry’ isn’t always enough.

In her The Jewish Woman piece, “When Sorry Isn’t Enough,” Zadok writes, “Kids need to be taught to take responsibility for their actions.”

“Our job as parents is to help guide and mold our little people into becoming caring and compassionate big people,” she adds. “What I expect to see from my kids when they have caused harm to another child (intentionally or not) is a sense of regret and a sense of concern …”

Meredith Jacobs is author of two Jewish parenting books and is co-founder and editor of Jewish parenting website,

When it comes to teaching children about teshuvah (“repentance”), she suggests story-telling and role playing exercises. Most importantly, though, she says the best way to teach is “through modeling.”

“Don’t be afraid to share your own feelings with your children,” Jacobs advises. “By modeling teshuvah, you’re not only teaching them a lesson, you are deepening your own relationships.” She adds, “Try to talk about feelings, happy or sad, every day.”

The Hardest WordAlthough many Rosh Hashanah-themed PJ Library books are suitable for children this time of year, one book in particular stands out as especially pertinent to the topic of teshuvah.

The Hardest Word by Jacqueline Jules is a PJ selection in the Egg Matza (5 to 6 years) age group. It tells the story of Ziz, a clumsy and big-hearted bird who asks God for advice after accidentally destroying a vegetable garden.

Through the lessons of the story, Ziz learns the importance of an apology. By reading it aloud to your child, he or she too might also learn its importance.


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