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"Say you're sorry."

post #1 of 97
Thread Starter 
My youngest son works at a grocery store and sees all kinds of examples of bad parenting. He came home and asked me why parents forced their kids to appologize.

I explained to him that when he and his brothers were little and did something "bad" I would appologize for them. They were so strong willed that they would want to say they were sorry themself and not want their mommy to do it for them. I don't think I ever forced them to say I'm sorry. They have grown up to be very polite young adults because they want to be.
post #2 of 97
It seems you're not really asking a question, but I hear this a lot from different families, ie: their "Apology Policy." Every family has one, it just might not be self evident or "enforced." I'm with you though. I don't force small people to do anything. Its so conterproductive I feel. I try hard to model good apologizing for my young people as best I can, so humbling... I think many children haven't seen good apologizing in action, and are unaccustom to that humbling feeling. Practice does help though. What I generally communicate with a young one is the need to apologize and the many forms that can take. You know, can you say you're sorry yourself or do you need help? I think true contrition on a child's part is not always forth coming either. So what if they truely don't feel sorry??? Well empathy and sympathy are learned feelings, and a basic discussion about feelings and encouragement to share feelings is deffinitely a step in the right direction. Two fav. resources include Positive Discipline (has a wonderful section of figuring out what a child is mistakingly trying to communicate) and Non-Violent Comm. Very well known to most and easy to recommend. Its astounding to me how much easier communicating is now that I have young people to humble me...don't get me started on comm. with dp... sheesh!
post #3 of 97
I hate to get forced apologies. They aren't sorry.

When you force an apology, the child is now embarassed, and probably a little angry. The thing they are apologising for isn't even an issue any more, and they didn't learn anything.

I DO ask if they WANT to say anything. But, if they don't want to, I say "O.K".

If a child hurts someone, I Do expect them to do their best to fix what they have done though. Sometimes that is an "Are you O.K?", or a pat on the back, or an actual sincere "i'm sorry".

Otherwise, I wish the child would just keep it to themselves, rather than force out an apolgy to me or others. It just ends up feeling worse for everybody.
post #4 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post
I hate to get forced apologies. They aren't sorry.

When you force an apology, the child is now embarassed, and probably a little angry. The thing they are apologising for isn't even an issue any more, and they didn't learn anything.

I DO ask if they WANT to say anything. But, if they don't want to, I say "O.K".

If a child hurts someone, I Do expect them to do their best to fix what they have done though. Sometimes that is an "Are you O.K?", or a pat on the back, or an actual sincere "i'm sorry".

Otherwise, I wish the child would just keep it to themselves, rather than force out an apolgy to me or others. It just ends up feeling worse for everybody.
:

Apologies are never forced in our house. It just makes the whole thing worse.
post #5 of 97
I agree that forced apologies are not very productive. However, I do try to facilitate admission of fault, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

I also model it (when I do something wrong that requires an apology).
post #6 of 97

apologizing...

So...my boys are 4 and 6 years old. We have always required them to "make it right" before resuming play when they have done something wrong (ex. hit their brother). If they don't want to apologize, they are then choosing to sit and think about what they've done. We always talk about why an action was "wrong", how it made them feel, and how it made the person they acted against feel. We've found that doing this has led us to have very emotionally intelligent children, who are both extremely compassionate. I don't think this counts as a "forced" apology because they can wait as long as they want to fix it, there are just consequences for waiting (ie. not getting to continue playing). We also ask them "what are you sorry for" so that they can explain to us what they are feeling in their own words - I think this is far more effective them having them parrot a phrase without thinking for themselves!

Btw.... my husband's parents NEVER made him apologize for anything no matter how wrong he was, and they never apologized for anything to him. As an adult, he now acknowledges how hard it is for him to admit that he is wrong, and he really appreciates that we are taking a different approach with our boys.

Also, when we (as parents) screw up, we also will sit down and apologize and talk to the boys about our mistakes. For example, if I feel I've been grumpy or short-tempered with my kids, I will stop myself and sit down with them. I acknowledge that I was short because I'm feeling grumpy and tell them that I am sorry! I think this is so important because I don't want them to grow up thinking that daddy and I are infallible! My six year old is particularly appreciative of this, and I've found him to be quite sensitive when I let him know how I'm feeling "I'm sorry I'm short-tempered... I'm not feeling so good and I shouldn't be short with you - do you ever feel grumpy when you don't feel good?" This has opened the door to many great conversations about how he's feeling and why he acts a certain way in different circumstances...
post #7 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by robingrant View Post
Btw.... my husband's parents NEVER made him apologize for anything no matter how wrong he was, and they never apologized for anything to him. As an adult, he now acknowledges how hard it is for him to admit that he is wrong, and he really appreciates that we are taking a different approach with our boys.
My brother who was forced to apologize growing up finds it very hard to say sorry even when he feels sorry because he has grown to associate it with "I'm not really sorry, but I want you to stop complaining so... yeah, sorry."
post #8 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
My brother who was forced to apologize growing up finds it very hard to say sorry even when he feels sorry because he has grown to associate it with "I'm not really sorry, but I want you to stop complaining so... yeah, sorry."
Well, that's too bad. So, he is unable to discern when an apology is warranted?
post #9 of 97
It's not that he doesn't recognize when he needs to apologize, but he says that he thinks his parents always made him feel like he shouldn't have to say sorry - and the stubbornness that they displayed and supported in him has been hard to overcome.

The reason we discuss the effects of their behavior on others with the boys is so that they can internalize the idea of cause/effect and hopefully grow up realizing that their actions have an impact on the people around them. As I said before, they both are extremely compassionate and definitely have shown genuine remorse without any prompting (ex - wresting this morning my 4 yr old bumped his head - my six year old was not at fault, but definitely showed concern for his brother's bumped head! Since their was no fault, he didn't apologize - but showed compassion. If he had caused the bump, however, I'm pretty sure he would have apologized without prompting because he loved his brother and does not like seeing him in any pain!) If we merely demanded a "sorry" from them when they did something wrong I don't think it would mean anything to them, and they would probably grow up like the above-mentioned brother - saying sorry to appease but not sincerely...
post #10 of 97
We don't force apologies, but encourage them. Because of the way I was raised, I have a personal reluctance to say "I'm sorry." because I'm a little afraid of admitting culpability for my mistakes. My parents were big on covering one's own butt first.... I am ashamed of this reluctance and want my children to have more courage than I do. If they hurt someone else, I want them to take responsibility for it as a matter of course.

I also agree that there is an emotional intelligence issue here. Forced apologies are very uncomfortable, but I believe that sometimes the words "I'm sorry" are just part of appropriate social interactions with others. Just as I think it is appropriate to say "Thanks" sometimes when I don't particularly feel gratitude, I say "Sorry" sometimes when I am at fault even if I don't particularly feel deep remorse.

Is the meaning of the words "I'm sorry" a cultural issue for anyone here? I mean, as I type this, it seems very Canadian....and I have friends from Asian cultures who seem to use the words "I'm sorry" a lot more than I'm used to, even....

A big issue in my house lately is that we apologize if someone is hurt because of something we did, even if we didn't do it on purpose (big nuance here for my 4 yr old to learn)

And I will apologize/ attempt atonement FOR one of my children's actions (to another one of my children or to an outside party) if I feel that an apology is required.

"It looks like X isn't ready to apologize right now, but I am SO sorry that he hit you. Hitting hurts and that wasn't ok. Is there anything I can do to help?" (much attention to the injured party ensuing until reparations seem to have been made.).
post #11 of 97
I think it is literally impossible, to live in the world, and not realize that one's actions/words can have an impact on others.
post #12 of 97
Nice post, Aubergine68.
post #13 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolalola View Post
Well, that's too bad. So, he is unable to discern when an apology is warranted?
Um, no... He's unable to see the "I'm sorry" as an acceptable thing. He often choose actions to show he's sorry then words. Unfortunatly many people misconstrue this as being rude or unable to admit he was wrong.

To him "I'm sorry" doesn't mean "I'm sorry". It means "I'm not sorry and I just want you to shut up about it!" because that's what he learned from being forced to apologize. You do it to get others off your back, not because your actually sorry.

That being said, he also has trouble accepting apologies for the same reason. Even if they are genuine, in his mind there's the "training" he recieve that's telling him "Is this person really sorry? Or are they just trying to avoid making amends for what they did."
post #14 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolalola View Post
Nice post, Aubergine68.
Oh, that's very kind of you to say -- (sincere) thanks for using your 2000th post to express this opinion...and congrats on hitting the big 2-0-0-0!
post #15 of 97
I don't force apologies, but I do try to help my children see when something needs to be fixed. It's probably easier to explain with examples...

DD says DS just ran her over. I cuddle her, etc. DS comes in seemingly ignoring his crying sister; really, though, he already feels so bad he cannot even look at her to see if she's hurt. (I think this is really common in children and often misconstrued as insensitivity.) I say, "DS, your sister might like a cherry stone pillow from the freezer." He dashes off, comes back as her hero, and suddenly is in the "right" and able to say all sorts of sweet words that moments before I could not have "forced" him to say.

Or, DS comes in saying DD has knocked down all his things. DD says he did such and such first. DS says he only did that because she did such and such. I say, "Wow! you're both pretty upset. What would you like to happen?" Usually, not always, they then work it out themselves. Sometimes, it involves me helping to reset the stage for whatever the game was, but most of the time, they would rather just go back to their play after they've cleared the air.

My littlest does not fit in these paradigms. She is about 3.5, and she is still enough part of me that she would much rather feel my love than a sibling's apology. I act as the mediator when she needs it, but in this role, I very carefully am showing her how to help make things right, or how her siblings are trying to make things right by her.

It sort of sounds like no one ever apologizes, and that's not true. However, I actually prefer actions to the meaningless phrase, "I'm sorry." I DO see how it is a social cue, and I have pointed out to my older two when these words would help to smooth things over. It's just that I'd really rather they acknowledge and fix the problem than think these words are the only thing necessary when we've made a mistake.
post #16 of 97
It is true that "I'm sorry" isn't the only or even the best response to a conflict like these.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mama_mojo View Post
I I say, "DS, your sister might like a cherry stone pillow from the freezer." He dashes off, comes back as her hero, and suddenly is in the "right" and able to say all sorts of sweet words that moments before I could not have "forced" him to say.
In our house, if anyone gets hurt, one hears "Do you need a rIce pack?" and the patter of little feet going to the upright freezer to get one out. We made a bunch with the toddlers out of odd socks and rice, while talking about first aid and how cold packs can help all sorts of owies feel better. They are semi-disposable -- if they get bled on they get composted. We need more.

Cherry stone pillows sound like a step up. I am seriously going to save the stones next cherry season and we'll make some more.
post #17 of 97
We don't force it here. But they must here me say Sorry a lot, because my dd says she is sorry to everyone and everything. She bumped into her wipes box the other day and said "Sorry Wipes" lol I must say it a lot.
post #18 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
Um, no... He's unable to see the "I'm sorry" as an acceptable thing. He often choose actions to show he's sorry then words. Unfortunatly many people misconstrue this as being rude or unable to admit he was wrong.

To him "I'm sorry" doesn't mean "I'm sorry". It means "I'm not sorry and I just want you to shut up about it!" because that's what he learned from being forced to apologize. You do it to get others off your back, not because your actually sorry.

That being said, he also has trouble accepting apologies for the same reason. Even if they are genuine, in his mind there's the "training" he recieve that's telling him "Is this person really sorry? Or are they just trying to avoid making amends for what they did."
Learning to vocalize remorse is a part of living in our society. It's courteous to apologize when you've done something wrong to someone; actions should match the sentiment, but in our society (American, that is, for me at least) saying "I'm sorry" seals the deal.

I do tell my daughter to say "sorry," but she is only 2 and is just learning that if you do something you *tell* the person that you feel sorry as well as come give them a big hug and a kiss. All I can tell you is that when she wonks me in the head with a board book, it DOES make me feel better to have her say that she is sorry and come give me a hug.

All the same I'm not going to "shame" my daughter into it or demand an apology in front of people while she squirms. Like most things, there is a middle road here.
post #19 of 97
DD is 2 and I don't force her to apologize.

I prefer to point out what has happen and the consequence.

eg. 'Oh no! You hit DC and hurt him. Now he's sad.'

From the very first time I tried this I could see in her reaction that she didn't like to see the other child hurt and she usually tries to make it better with a pat.

As her understanding grows i've been throwing in questions like 'do you feel sorry for what has happened?' but I really would only prompt it when I'm certain I'll get a 'yes'
post #20 of 97
When my kids were young, I WOULD tell them to go and apologize after I explained what and why they did was unloving. Now they are older (6,7 & 10) and they will say it freely and on their own. If they don't want to apologize, they don't. But most of the times they recognize the consequences and see the response in the other person and they sincerely apologize.

I think its how you use your position of parent, what you model and where you heart is more than whether or not you have some 'apology policy'.
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