Sunday, March 24, 2013

To Apologize or Not to Apologize?

The other day a mom was telling me about how her little girl hit another girl at a birthday party. The mom was frustrated because it took a long time to get her daughter to apologize, and then when she finally did, her apology wasn't sincere at all. She wanted to know how to get her daughter to really feel sorry.

This happens all the time, where a child does something wrong and parents make their child apologize. Of course we want our children to feel remorse when they've done something wrong, but asking our child to apologize actually doesn't achieve that.  In fact, when we ask our child to apologize, most of the time we're asking her to lie. That's because she's probably not feeling sorry at that moment. She's still angry about whatever caused her to hit. So it's actually best not to ask her to apologize at that moment. If you feel like an apology is necessary because you're feeling embarrassed about the behavior, then you can do it, and that will set a good example.

The best way to teach empathy is with the consequence we call an 'action replay'. Wait until she's calmed down and then have her do the scenario over again, where she practices responding in a more positive way. The more you have her practice doing it right instead of making her apologize, the sooner she'll be willing to apologize because she actually feels sorry!

Laura Runnels Fleming  (see profile below)
Pasadena, CA