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#1 of 13 Old 11-03-2011, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Remind me why so many AP/GD parents don't force their kids to apologize. (I know a lot of parents highly recommend and strongly suggest kids apologize when warranted, I'm talking specifically about forcing kids to apologize, as in punishing or withholding affection if they don't).

 

I don't force apologies, but I can't articulate why and need rationales for a debate/discussion (OK - argument) I'm in.

 

 


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#2 of 13 Old 11-03-2011, 04:40 PM
 
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Well, I can only speak for myself, but I feel my job as a parent is to teach empathy and compassion and to help my children understand that their actions have consequences. A forced apology is an insincere apology. I think it also puts the kid in an uncomfortable situation, and in a way shames them. I usually remind my kids that the person who is hurt or sad is the priority in the moment and encourage them to go make sure the other child is OK. I ask them if they can make an apology, but if they flat out refuse I don't force it. I do talk with them after the fact about their feelings and the other child's feelings and explain that an apology is a good way to make bad feelings go away for both parties. Sometimes I ask if they can think of anything that might make the other child feel better. Sometimes that's a hug, sometimes it's a toy. I never force hugs or physical affection. I also try to remember what I would feel like if somebody forced me to apologize when I wasn't ready.


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#3 of 13 Old 11-03-2011, 06:21 PM
 
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I don't have really anything to back me up on this, but I also don't force apologies.  I generally assume that there were two kids fighting, even if my kid happens to be the one who was more obviously in the wrong.  My older two (9 and 5) generally will apologize if they hurt or someone or did something wrong, but sometimes they feel strongly that their action was warranted.  In those cases I try to listen to their point of view, work with them to predict possible ramifications of not apologizing, and try to find another way to repair the relationship.  Sometimes my kids' actions are a response to sheer meanness and in those cases I work with my kids to process their own hurt feelings, knowing that an apology won't be forthcoming from the kid being mean.  We still talk about how it's not ok to hit/steal a toy/call a name, but with more affirmation and understanding for why the child did that, and then a conversation about other ways to handle that situation should it repeat itself. 

 

Once, my ds had broken all the lego structures his friend built.  He refused to apologize in the moment, but after the friend left and we'd had a chance to talk, he drew a picture and had me write "sorry for breaking your legos.  I felt curious.  Next time I will remember that I can't take your legos apart."

 

My eldest often thinks she's getting away with something and then feels ashamed when she's found out.  I role-play with her: "you're going to say sorry to daddy.  You'll say 'sorry for fake- washing my hands, daddy' and he'll say "I love you, thank you for saying you're sorry, I forgive you.  Now let's wash those hands."  She'll usually come around and make things right.

 

So why do I do these things?  I think to honor my child and his/her feelings about the situation, to give them some power and control over maintaining and building relationships, and to create opportunities for discussing hurt feelings, alternate responses, and relational repairs. 


Married to DH since 2006.  Adoptive mom to DD1 (June 2002), DS (Jan 2006), and bio mom to DD2 (May 2009).

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#4 of 13 Old 11-03-2011, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Vancouver Mommy View Post

Well, I can only speak for myself, but I feel my job as a parent is to teach empathy and compassion and to help my children understand that their actions have consequences. A forced apology is an insincere apology. I think it also puts the kid in an uncomfortable situation, and in a way shames them. .... I also try to remember what I would feel like if somebody forced me to apologize when I wasn't ready.



 

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So why do I do these things?  I think to honor my child and his/her feelings about the situation, to give them some power and control over maintaining and building relationships, and to create opportunities for discussing hurt feelings, alternate responses, and relational repairs. 


Thank you both, you've put into words what I've been feeling about this.

 

But I need to clarify the situation a little... the forced apology is an adult forcing a child to apologize to him.  In each situation the child did something inappropriate, spoke rudely, stuck out a tongue or something. And the adult's response is to force an apology by threatening punishment if the apology isn't forthcoming. To me that is so different from forcing a child to apologize to another child. I don't like forced child to child apologies, but can live with them, but forced child-adult apologies make my skin crawl.

 

Does this situation seem a little different to you? What's your take on a forced apology when a child is rude to an adult?

 

(I'm not saying that the rudeness doesn't need to be dealt with; it definitely does. I'm just specifically talking about forcing an apology in this situation, and using a punishment to force it.)


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#5 of 13 Old 11-04-2011, 09:47 AM
 
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#6 of 13 Old 11-05-2011, 05:54 AM
 
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Ah that does get trickier.   So it'd be if I were out with my kids, one of them did something rude to another adult (presumably a family member or family friend?), and the other adult tries to force my kid to apologize?  And/or expects me to participate in the forcing?  Are you there when this happens, or is this someone caring for your children?  Do you witness the interaction or not?  I think those would all make a difference as to how exactly I handled it. 

 

If the other adult is someone relatively close to you, I'd try both talking with my kids about what's going on, since frequent rudeness (for us at least) often signals a contentious relationship.  Then trying to talk with the other adult, though I have to say I haven't really been in this situation.

 

If it's just kind of random rudeness/playfulness/lack of impulse control, I'd handle it totally differently.  Maybe a conversation with the other adult about where the behavior is coming from and what might be more helpful ways to respond.  Definitely something about "it's not you, this is just something my child is experimenting with" or something?  Maybe also a piece of that conversation would be about how not forcing an apology isn't a sign of disrespect to the person, but rather a sign of respect to your kids. 

 

The closest example (perhaps) for me is my son who is now 5 who until very recently regularly turned his back onto people who tried to talk with him.  I've never had someone demand an apology, though I've often felt exptected to apologize.  In that scenario though, I haven't.  My son is a very thoughtful, private person, and was communicating to the best of his ability that he didn't want to be engaged in that conversation.  I usually said "DS, are you not in the mood to talk right now? [usually a slight shake of the head] That's ok honey, you don't have to talk right now.  Next time you can try using your words to say that.  Right now I would like to chat w/ Mrs. S for a few minutes.  You can go play or stay here."  (or a quick exit: nice to see you, goodbye! if I didn't want to chat). 

 

Again, it sounds like you're asking for the "why" which is so hard to put into words.  I think it's similar to above, that it's more important to me to help my child identify and express his/her feelings than it is for me to parent the other adults in our lives.  Adults are responsible for themselves and I (work hard to) refuse to take on that responsibility, try as some of them might!  I think forcing an apology just disregards the reality of the situation for that child, and disregards what they're trying to express.  Though the way they're trying to say it is not ok, the actual message often is one that needs to be heard.  Creating a relationship with open communication (I think, I HOPE!) is going to be the best way to keep our children healthy and safe throughout their childhood and teen years.  Laying the foundations of allowing self-expression, no matter how imperfect, and of allowing mistakes, and still clearly loving the child, I really think will make a difference once the child experiences more significant struggles.  My daughter is 9 now and for her, I'm seeing all of my decisions in the light of "once she's a teenager, what do I want her to know about our relationship?"  That has really changed the tone!  It's a lot easier for me to show love and respect, and to be a whole lot less concerned about what other people think of my parenting. 

 

Does that speak into your situation at all?


Married to DH since 2006.  Adoptive mom to DD1 (June 2002), DS (Jan 2006), and bio mom to DD2 (May 2009).

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#7 of 13 Old 11-05-2011, 12:47 PM
 
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I'm glad you brought this up, becuase we've been watching the hell out of Supernanny since we brought home my 6 month old nephew.  One thing that really bugged me is her forced apologies... although there are times the child did not apologize, and she never really addressed this. 

 

Personally I think it's ok to request a child to apologize to someone else.  Perhaps after an age appropriate quick discussion about how they would feel if it done to them. 

 

But growing up, I had a really horrible guardian that used to punish me for emotions, for example yelling...  Well, I yelled because she was so excruciatingly frustrating and mean, then she would punish me, have me write 100 times a verse about honoring your parents, then tell me to apologize.  Of course I wasn't sorry.  She was wrong to begin with, then punished me for getting upset, and then wanted me to apologize? 

 

Punishment would continue until I conceded to apologize.  So eventually I said it through my teeth.  I was SO resentful, to the point of still feeling that emotion to this day to be able to express to youl.

 

So I guess to me it's strange telling a child to apologize to an adult.   Heck, I could even say asking, "what do we say when realize we've done something wrong / hurt someone?"  but I just simply can't imagine forcing them to say they're sorry, especially if they're not... and definitely not as a threat to further punishment. 

 

I dunno.  I'm interested in hearing other people's thoughts.

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#8 of 13 Old 11-05-2011, 12:58 PM
 
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Sorry for still rambling but this is a sore topic...

 

I think that this is a perfect communication opportunity.  I think that children are forced to stifle their feelings that the risk of upsetting the adult-power balance, when in reality the adult could have simply said (using a previous posters example), "I feel sad and confused when you turn your back to me when I'm talking.  If you don't want to talk right now, that's ok, but perhaps you could tell me?"

 

A child might not neccessarily know why they are saying they are sorry.  To them, turning their back might be perfectly reasonable, but they can relate to feeling sad or confused and might recognize THAT as a reason to apologize.   Then again they might not need to apologize at all, that's only 'rude' in the adult world, but it might help them better understand what they should do in the future. 

 

 

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#9 of 13 Old 11-06-2011, 12:15 AM
 
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Wild Lupine - wondering if you are looking for alternatives to forced apologies or reasoning against it or both?

If one of my kids are "rude" to an adult, for the most part it is because the child is unaware of the societal norms of adult-child interaction. So I highlight the proper interaction and why the way they acted might have hurt the adults feelings or made them uncomfortable, etc. Like a pp said, another reason could be the emotional state of the child, in which case, I highlight that for the adult, "Umm. Madeline are you feeling shy and you don't feel like answering right now? Can I answer for you?"

Reasoning why?

Kids do not completely develop empathy until the age of about 8, depending on the theorist. An apology is given to show that you understand that you caused another person pain and that you feel "sorry" for it - if you can't fully put yourself into another's shoes, how can you possibly feel sorry? In essence, forcing an apology is telling your child to lie. They don't experience it as a 'lie', but they certainly feel the disconnect between what they are feeling and what they are being told to do. Children are small people that don't experience things they way have come to in our growing up and we need to remind those adults who forget that. To add insult to injury, a punishment simply tells the child that they should just do as they're told so something bad or undesirable doesn't happen to them. I assume that isn't the lesson we are trying to teach a child when we think they should be apologizing. We want them to think of others and how their behavior effects others, punishing them encourages them to be more egocentric if I do this what will happen to me?), not less.

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#10 of 13 Old 11-06-2011, 10:30 AM
 
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I was thinking about this some more this morning, and think my previous post was more child-centered than I really am.  I'd add that I also do talk with my kids about either apologizing or making repairs.  We talk about the actual potential consequences of their action (someone might not want to play/talk with them next time, or perhaps might have hurt feelings, or might feel upset).  Not that that means the child shouldn't have expressed themselves, but we do talk about the possible outcomes.  We then turn it into a "to help him/her not feel hurt anymore, we could try to apologize or maybe to explain what you were trying to say."  Sometimes my children are more than happy to draw a picture for someone even if they don't wish to talk to them.  Righting a relationship entails a LOT more than an apology, and I try to focus on that as the big picture.  How can we be in right relationship with each other?  That includes my child authentically expressing him/herself as best as able, and working on the social norms, and working on apologies, and other repairing actions. 


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#11 of 13 Old 11-06-2011, 07:32 PM
 
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A tricky topic!  We have 5 children, so we deal with hurt feelings/conflict on a regular basis.  It is very important to DH and I to help our children get along, to maintain peace in our family.  When there is an offense/conflict/whatever, we try to encourage both parties to share what happened, validate the feelings, and to give them time to calm down.  We try to get to the root of the problem, talk about how they could have handled it better, what they would like to have done differently, etc.  When the child is calmer, we do remind them that the long-term relationship is more important than the current situation, and that they really do want to preserve it.  We don't force apologies, but we do encourage them to try to find a way to mend the relationship (which doesn't necessarily happen instantaneously, lol).  Sometimes, it's very helpful to let one or both children sit by themselves to calm down and figure out what to do.  Sometimes, they really need our help to get past the anger/hurt and figure out how to approach the other child.  One thing that we have found helpful is to remind the child that they can rejoin the fun when they have apologized and done their part to fix the problem (because they are not always ready to move forward at the same time).

 

I don't think that forced apologies do much for either party; one feels resentful for being forced to apologize, the other feels lied to.  It does nothing to restore the relationship, increase the empathy, and teach children how to effectively deal with conflict, which, IMO, is the goal. I know that our approach isn't always successful, but most of the time, our children do end up apologizing to each other.  Most of the time, once they get past the initial emotion, they are genuinely sad that they caused hurt to one of their siblings, and do want to make it right.  I think that it is our job as parents to help them figure out how to do that.

 

I do like the PP where the child drew a picture and dictated the apology for breaking apart the other child's lego structure.  I've used drawing/art in that manner before quite successfully, and have found that it is a good medium for expressing feelings on the part of both children.  It is very non-confrontational, which IME makes it easier for children to apologize, and to accept the apology.   

 

 

RE: the adult/child issue.  When one of my children does something particularly rude or disrespectful to me, I let them know how I feel (hurt, disappointed, offended, whatever), and that I am sad when they act that way.  I do prompt an apology by telling them that it would help me feel better, just like it helps them to feel better when they receive a sincere apology after an offense.  Usually, when they understand the effects of their actions, they are sorry and ready to apologize (not always, lol!).  They will usually apologize and give a hug.  However, again, I don't think that a forced apology really does much to help the situation.  I mean, as the adult, I'm already bigger and stronger than most of my children, how in the world does forcing them to apologize make them feel any better about being smaller and weaker than me (which is often the reason they do something disrespectful, they are trying to be more powerful).  Usually, just letting them know how I feel after something like that is enough for them to want to apologize, just like it is for me.

 

 

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#12 of 13 Old 11-07-2011, 01:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by gardenmommy View Post

 

RE: the adult/child issue.  When one of my children does something particularly rude or disrespectful to me, I let them know how I feel (hurt, disappointed, offended, whatever), and that I am sad when they act that way.  I do prompt an apology by telling them that it would help me feel better, just like it helps them to feel better when they receive a sincere apology after an offense.  Usually, when they understand the effects of their actions, they are sorry and ready to apologize (not always, lol!).  They will usually apologize and give a hug.  

 



I think this is fantastic, and a good way to TEACH why to apologize rather than force it.  And it opens them up to the opportunity to do it naturally... to make you feel better.  As a bonus, I bet it's especially sweet when they opt to apologize.

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#13 of 13 Old 11-08-2011, 06:42 PM
 
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Lol, I had a chance to practice this yesterday.  My DD1 was very unhappy (ok, MAD would be a much better description) with me because I made her finish her math assignment.  She stomped out of the room and slammed the door saying, "I HATE you!".  I let her calm down, and then tried to process it with her.  She eventually initiated an apology and a hug, and we moved forward.  It was one of those welcome moments where you think perhaps maybe you might just possibly be making progress.  

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