But when I stumbled upon the article I want to share - I decided it was too good to miss; it sums up what I think without me having to write it
It's called Seven Alternatives To Forced Apologies and I got into this with my first child. I believed at that time of course it was important they learnt to say sorry! Good manners are essential - I also believed the way to do this was to encourage her to apologise if she did something.
Around that time I also read Alfie Kohn's "Unconditional Parenting", which discusses how forcing a child to say sorry when they don't mean it, really encourages a child to lie. Whilst I didn't feel my daughters casual use of the word equated to lying, I agreed with Kohn that sorry is really only of value if the child is actually sorry for whatever they did; the motivation has to be intrinsic.
Anyway the post I want to link to, looks at alternatives to forcing the apology - which are the sort of techniques I switched to when the former wasn't working and also with my second. Both children now apologise if they feel sorry for something - and refuse if they don't, but that in itself is also valuable. Sometimes when they are reluctant to apologise and you discuss why - there is a good reason to be heard; which can allow actual resolution of the issue. Which as they mature is likely to be most valuable? the ability to apologise even if you don't feel culpable - or the skills to resolve?
Playground and play group etiquette often dictates that when your child hurts another child, takes something away, refuses to share, or any of those other behaviors that make parents cringe, you must demand that your child apologize. Even if your child obviously doesn’t mean it.When Kieran hurts or frustrates another child, I do want to acknowledge and comfort the child who has been hurt or frustrated, but I do not force Kieran to apologize. Instead of teaching Kieran to apologize automatically and without sincere feeling,1 I want to focus more on helping Kieran empathize with others and learn how to play and interact with his friends appropriately.
Here are seven ways to help your child learn both the social niceties of apologies, as well as how to apologize with sincerity:
- Connect with Your Child: Try Aldort’s S.A.L.V.E. technique: calm yourself down and let go of your first (often angry or embarrassed) reaction. Give your child some attention; listen to him. Validate his feelings and needs, and empower him to solve his own problems.