PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
When Friends Fight: The Importance of "I'm Sorry"

No fight can end, and no friendship can move on, until everyone says these two little words. Sometimes, though, they can be difficult to say. Here are some things to keep in mind:

It's not about winning
Friendships aren't like the Super Bowl, and there should never be a winner and a loser. When you start fighting with a friend, it may feel important that you "win" the fight by proving you're right and he's wrong, or by making him be the first to apologize.

In reality, you'll BOTH LOSE if you let the fight ruin your friendship, and you will BOTH WIN if you find a way to heal it.

Put aside your pride
You may have heard the expression "His pride stood in the way." This phrase is usually used to describe a person who is so determined to be "right" that he lets an opportunity for happiness pass him by forever. Don't let this happen to a friendship you care about. Remember: as time goes on, we usually forget about who was right and who was wrong in a disagreement, and only remember the sadness of losing a friend.

Take the first step
Are you sick of fighting? Do you think this fight is just not important enough to ruin your friendship? Then try being the first to apologize. You don't have to take full responsibility for starting the fight, or even say that your feelings were wrong. But you should find something that you did or said that's worth apologizing for. Maybe you're sorry that you let the fight go for so long, or that you overreacted to something your friend did. If you say you're sorry, it's like an invitation for your friend to do the same. Once you've both said it, you'll both feel a million times better.

Apologizing isn't about "bowing down" to your friend or becoming a "doormat." It's about taking some responsibility for the argument, and inviting him or her to take responsibility too. If your friend thinks she's "won" just because you've apologized, then she's not ready to make up yet.

Still having trouble getting the words to come out of your mouth? Try doing it this way:

  • "I feel really bad about __________ and I'm sorry that it happened."

  • "I know you've felt _________, and I'm sorry for making you feel that way."

There are some special cases when you shouldn't be the one to apologize first. For instance, if you've been physically hurt by your friend, or she has done something that is dangerously wrong, apologizing might let her think she has more power over you. This is a form of bullying, and you don't have to put up with it.

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