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I'm sorry

sorry; apologise; feelings; anger; upset; wrong; mistakes;


What kids say

saying sorry when you do something wrong

Why say sorry?

Nobody is perfect.

  • We all have bad days when things go wrong and we feel like the world is out to get us.
  • We all do stupid things without thinking at times.
  • We all make mistakes.
  • We all have accidents.
  • We all get mad at ourselves sometimes and take it out on our family and friends.

This means that we may hurt someone or hurt someone's feelings.

If you know that someone has been hurt in some way by what you have done or said then you need to try to make things right.

You need to say "I'm sorry" and then show them that you are sorry by what you do next - make sure that you look at the section 'What next?'.  Otherwise saying sorry means nothing at all.

When you should say sorry

Saying sorry can help put things right when:

  • you have hurt someone or their feelings
    say sorry when you have hurt someone's feelings
  • you have lost or broken something belonging to someone else
  • you haven't done something you were supposed to do
  • you did something you were not supposed to do
  • you told a lie
  • you let someone else take the blame
  • you passed on cruel gossip about someone
  • you chose to break a rule at home or school
  • you let anger be the boss of you
  • your actions have put someone into danger
  • you have got someone into trouble.

These are just a few examples of when you know you've done wrong, and saying sorry is the first step to putting things right again.

What you might say

It can be embarrassing to say sorry. No-one likes to think that they are in the wrong.

If you are saying sorry then:

  • you have realised that you did or said something unkind
  • you feel sorry for the person you hurt
  • you want to do something to make things all right again.

After you say sorry then you will feel better and so will the person you are saying sorry to.

You will feel even better if you can do something to try and put things right.

Maybe you could say something like:

  • "I'm sorry about what I did. I won't do it again."
  • "I'm sorry I broke your pencil, I will get you another one."
  • "I wasn't thinking because I was so mad, but that is no excuse for what I said or did."
  • "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings and I won't do it again."
  • "I'm sorry I pushed you. I just wasn't looking where I was going. Are you alright?"

Saying sorry can be hard

You may:

  • feel really nervous about it
  • feel bad about yourself
  • feel mad with yourself
  • feel that saying sorry won't make any difference as you've said or done something to hurt someone or their feelings
  • feel that the other person won't want to forgive you or accept your apology
    forgive others when they say they are sorry
  • feel like saying sorry isn't really important
  • feel that you don't want the other person to feel that he or she has any power over you by giving them the choice to accept or reject your apology
  • feel like the other person should say sorry to you. Maybe you could start by saying "I feel sorry about what happened, what was said or what was done. Maybe we could talk about it and sort things out." 

Our topic Conflict resolution may be helpful. 

Choosing when to say sorry can be a problem too

Sometimes you can say sorry immediately afterwards. You've got it over with and can move on right away.

You may wait until that person has cooled down before saying sorry. This is good in that you have time to think how you will say sorry and what you can do to make things better.

saying sorry in front of othersYou may feel that if you have embarrassed that person in front of others then it is only fair that you should say sorry in front of others. That can be scary but, although the other person has an opportunity to embarrass you, it gives you the chance to show any others that you have the strength of character to admit when you are wrong and are prepared to 'do the right thing.'

In Australia 'doing the right thing' is a very important part of our culture.

What next?

Often the person will say something to show that he or she accepts your apology.

Maybe you will both be able to be friendly or maybe the other person is too angry and won't accept the apology.

being sorry

There is nothing you can do if the person is angry except to say sorry, walk away and hope that things will be ok after a while. You might try saying sorry another time.

If you have made a mistake then you need to learn from it and not make the mistake again. Like if you are working with a partner and you don't do your part, then you should say sorry to the other person and make sure that next time you do everything you're supposed to.

If you hurt someone because you let anger be the boss of you then you need to learn how to manage anger better. (Our topics Anger and Anger – being the boss of your anger may help you.)

If you have promised to change, to try harder, to do something for that person, or replace something you have lost or broken, then you must do that as soon as possible. Put yourself in the other person's place. Wouldn't you expect to have everything fixed up as promised?


Saying sorry may not fix everything right away. It may take some time before everything is ok again.

Maybe you could do something nice for that person - like making mum a cup of tea, tidying up without being asked or helping your brother or sister do something.

Sometimes the other person may never want to forgive you. That's their business.

If you have said sorry and you are showing by your behaviour that you are trying to make things better, then that is all you can do.

What kids say

  • it's good to say sorry"I think it is good to say sorry because if you don't the person who you've upset may never be your friend again." Joshua B.
  • "I think that 'sorry' is the best thing you can hear after a fight." Natasha
  • "I think sorry is an important thing to say when you've hurt someone but you should also be caring and help them feel better." Christian
  • "I said sorry when I crashed into my sister. I felt bad for hurting her," V.I.P.
  • "There was a ball on the Oval and so I played with it. Then a guy came up and said, "That's my ball." I said, "I'm sorry, I didn't know." Then I gave it to him and it was okay." Nathan

Dr Kim says

Dr KimSaying sorry is about accepting responsibility for what we do and say. Showing 'sorry' by your actions and words afterwards is very important too, otherwise saying sorry means nothing at all.

Sometimes we need to say sorry to ourselves!

Maybe you have not been looking after your body - eating too much, not enough exercise, being lazy, leaving things to the last minute, not thinking things through......get the picture?

It can be even harder to forgive ourselves than to forgive others when they say sorry. Don't give yourself a hard time, learn from your mistakes and move on.

Look at the Related Topics list under the Feedback link on the right of the page for more information.

Say sorry
I'm really very sorry
Didn't mean to make you cry
I was just being funny
Didn't know that you were shy.

I'm really very sorry
That I let the project down
When all of you were working
And I was being a clown.

I'm really very sorry
That I lost your comic book
I'll buy you another one
To replace the one I took.

No one likes to say, "I'm sorry"
No one likes to make mistakes.
But making things all right again
Is really what it takes.

Anyone can make mistakes.
We all can get upset
So if you did a silly thing
Say "sorry" if you haven't yet.
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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