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#1 of 77 Old 03-20-2008, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Enlighten me.

I've read, quite frequently, that many of you don't "force apologies"--what does that look like? How does that play out? What consequences does your child have for their actions? Are they every remorseful? Do they ever apologize? What do YOU do in a situation that involves someone besides yourself (like other children)?

I'm seriously confused--cause it FEELS like (and I'm SO willing to be wrong) that it teaches kids they don't have to be responsible for their actions...but maybe my imagination of what this looks like is totally wrong.

Point me in the direction of resources or share your experiences! Thanks! :
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#2 of 77 Old 03-20-2008, 06:36 PM
 
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IMO it is meaningless to make a child SAY they're sorry if they're not sorry. Doesn't teach anything I'm interested in teaching.

I'm much more interested in teaching empathy so that my child will actually BE sorry if they do something that hurts someone else. So we talk a lot about how the other person feels when something goes wrong. Sometimes she gets it, sometimes she doesn't. But little by little she is moving to a place where she can put herself in someone else's shoes without prompting.

A forced apology is meaningless. IMO it's much worse to have a glaring, obviously NOT sorry kid mumble "sorry" than just to move on at that time.

-Angela
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#3 of 77 Old 03-20-2008, 06:51 PM
 
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I'd like to start with a quote:

Quote:
We teach children to apologize by saying "I'm sorry," to children and to each other.

When children know they have done something wrong, they experience a loss of dignity. Insisting that children say they are sorry increases their loss of dignity. Losing dignity is an emotional hurt. When children hurt they cannot think well. When they cannot think well, they cannot learn. Children need our support to regain their dignity and to figure out a way to make amends. Instead of insisting children say sorry, we help them think of a way to make amends. (Getting a cold cloth for a boo-boo, gluing a broken toy.)

From Connection Parenting by Pam Leo
I think the key is to focus on how the child's actions affected the other person, and to emphasize making amends. That may or may not include apology. I do not think that insisting that a child apologize actually, by itself, teaches a child to take responsibility for their actions. It's the pointing out how the child's actions affected others, how it affected the child himself, the guidance regarding what to do instead and help in expressing their feelings/needs more effectively, and the focus on making amends (which may include apologizing, I think it's good to tell kids that others appreciate hearing our apologies when we sincerely feel sorry) that lead to a child's learning about taking responsibility for one's own actions. It's also the modeling of apologies and amends-making (by apologizing to others and making amends in front of our children, and apologizing and making amends to our children) that teaches taking responsibility, remorse, compassion, apologizing. At least, that is my personal experience.

It has been my experience that the less punishment a child receives, the less a child is forced to apologize, and the more compassionately a child is treated and guided (especially when they have done something wrong), the more room there is within the child to experience remorse, to empathize with others, to take responsibility, to make changes, to make amends, and to extend compassion to others. (eta I mean this sentence to convey active, involved, proactive parenting with age-appropriate guidance geared toward the individual needs and abilities of the child. Not overly-permissive, passive parenting.)
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#4 of 77 Old 03-20-2008, 07:06 PM
 
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I appreciate you asking this question so openly given it seems to go against what your current logic circuits are telling you

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Originally Posted by mrsfatty View Post
I'm seriously confused--cause it FEELS like (and I'm SO willing to be wrong) that it teaches kids they don't have to be responsible for their actions...but maybe my imagination of what this looks like is totally wrong.
Its interesting because if i were to force my kids to apologize then it would seem to me that I was the one taking responsibility for their actions

if dd (6yrs) does something that upsets another child, I would first ensure that the other child is being cared for/ attended too. I would sometimes apologize for what has happened if appropriate.

Then when my attention turns to dd i would (on a good day):
- listen & be compassionate in trying to work out what is happening for her and what was behind her action
- if i felt that she was unaware or unappreciative of it, I would explain the implication of her action on the other child or anyone else including me for that matter (i would try to be as factual as possible and avoid trying to guilt trip... the point here is to assist in connecting the dots between her action and consequences for others)

Basically my aim in these moments is to connect with my dd and specifically:
- be on her side to help her be the best that she can be;
- to help foster her self awareness about how what she does impacts on others;
- to help foster her self awareness about why she might behaving that way;
- to assist her in developing tools and strategies to move forward (of which apologies are a part)

I try to come from the perspective that children want to get along, they want to live in joy together and within themselves. Basically i give everyone the benefit of the doubt and try to attribute the best possible motives to what is going on (difficult sometimes).

In the mean time i try to model and "walk the talk". If i do/ say something that hurts someone (my kids or others) i try to acknowledge the way they feel and apologize as soon as possible.

having done this (albeit remarkably imperfectly and inconsistently) for over two years now, i find that dd generally apologizes of her own initiative. The apologies will often happen sometime after the incident but when they come I know that there is a real sincerity and meaning there... dare i say that there is a true responsibility for her actions.

arun
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#5 of 77 Old 03-20-2008, 07:30 PM
 
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If someone does something to me, then gives me a fake "i'm sorry". I don't feel any better. In fact, it just makes me bitter.

I only want sincere apologies, or nothing.

Even an "Are you O.K?" would be better than a forced apology.

I think kids are the same way. It feels better if the person is sorry, and didn't mean to do it. Or they wish they hadn't done that. Or meant to do it, but it didn't play out the way they thought.

Today, I took the kids to the park. There was a group of BIG grade schoolers from a big daycare center in the area. The teacher was mean and cranky. An older boy (about 11) was being cocky and thought he was cool. He threw the football at the back of the teacher's head. (I sorta snickered a little under my breath)

He was MORTIFIED. He said "sorry" kinda reluctantly to her. Then he gathered his pride and said "I meant to throw the ball, but I didn't mean for it to hit you.. I guess I wasn't thinking". I was very impressed. *but, he totally meant to hit her with it*

Edited to add, I ALWAYS made my dd "fix" what she had done. That might have been just a hug, or that might have meant that she got a bag of ice and a towel and sat with the injured child until he felt better. She never got completely away with hurting another child. She went through a bad time when she was an absolute bully. But, by age five, she was one of the most compassionate, responsible kids in her class.
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#6 of 77 Old 03-20-2008, 08:02 PM
 
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The way to take responsibility for doing something wrong is not by saying "I'm sorry." People take responsibility for doing something hurtful first by stopping whatever action is hurtful, and then following that up by helping make up for the hurt caused. I think there is a huge problem in our society, shown way up to elected officials, where they'll say they've taken responsibility for their actions, but they don't actually DO anything to make things better or even stop doing whatever hurtful thing they did. Saying "Sorry" isn't taking responsibility at all, and we as a society need to stop telling people it is.

/soapbox (LOL)
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#7 of 77 Old 03-20-2008, 08:50 PM
 
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When dd was younger (say 3-4), she would just refuse to say she was sorry. Seriously, it was be a HUGE battle. So I stopped trying, and just apologized in her place if she did not. I would always insist that she "check in" with a hurt peer, so that she did *something* that acknowledged the pain she had caused.

How it generally played out is this:

A bit later (maybe 30 minutes later if with friends, or up to a couple hours later if home with me), she would honestly apologize with feeling. The heartfelt apologies would pretty much make up for the delay

Now that she is older (7), she's picked up on our society's "rule" that we apologize, and it makes the other person feel better. It is no longer an issue.
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#8 of 77 Old 03-20-2008, 09:16 PM
 
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I really hate the way forced apologies seem to make kids think that saying "sorry" is enough to fix a situation. DH tends to be fond of making the kids say sorry. I prefer to focus on how they can make amends. "Sorry" will come when they're old enough and it will be sincere. My DD tends to use "sorry" in a knee jerk fashion though b/c DH has usually insisted on it. It's still something we're working on between us. Again though, I think the words mean nothing if they're not sincere and the words don't fix a mess, injury, offense, etc for the most part. If the offender can DO something to help the person offended, that means more than words to me. KWIM?
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#9 of 77 Old 03-20-2008, 09:43 PM
 
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Just wanted to add that my 2 1/2 year old does apologize sometimes! Not all of the time but some of the time. And he's not that old. So much of it is a about modeling. I make an effort to say I'm sorry alot and he picks it up.
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#10 of 77 Old 03-20-2008, 09:48 PM
 
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I do not force apologies. However, I do ask my child if they know what happened and if they caused an injury I will point out the injury and the other child's reaction, "Wow, do you see the scratch on her face; she's crying so hard it must really hurt, what do you think we should do?" Then DC will usually give the other child a hug, offer to get something like ice or a bandaid, or my child will just show that they feel really bad about what happened. If my child does not apologize, I go ahead and do it; "X, I'm so sorry DC hurt you, can I get you something (ice, bandaid, etc)." I then will talk with DC later about what happened and things we can do differently next time so no child gets hurt.

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#11 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 12:32 AM
 
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I agree w/ pointing out the effect on the other person. We do that too, even w/ our 2yo. He doesn't seem to get it yet, but I know he will.
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#12 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 12:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sledg View Post
It has been my experience that the less punishment a child receives, the less a child is forced to apologize, and the more compassionately a child is treated and guided (especially when they have done something wrong), the more room there is within the child to experience remorse, to empathize with others, to take responsibility, to make changes, to make amends, and to extend compassion to others. (eta I mean this sentence to convey active, involved, proactive parenting with age-appropriate guidance geared toward the individual needs and abilities of the child. Not overly-permissive, passive parenting.)
This is beautifully said and I agree 100%. I feel acutely inadequate when I read it, however, because when my older beloved has just snatched my younger beloved's toy out of her pudgy little hands, and shoved her down to boot, it is extremely hard to remember to provide "age-appropriate guidance geared toward the individual needs and abilities of the child." I mainly just want to yell "What is the matter with you?" and send him to his room.

Despite this, I have never been a fan of the forced apology. IMO it just teaches the child to be insincere. I do offer apology myself, though, if I feel one is necessary and my child refuses. And I am not above reminding the child that "Your friend might feel better if you apologize", etc. But I think it's insulting to the injured party to force a fake apology.
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#13 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 08:48 AM
 
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In our experience it is obvious that DS1 (28 mo) feels bad when he hurts someone else. I can tell he feels bad for hurting others because he hides, or tries to distract from the uncomfortable situation by trying to make me laugh. That is his way of trying to diffuse things. He is not trying to get out of "trouble". He just needs to be shown appropriate ways to help others when they get hurt.

We have never done time oor forced apologies. What we do is explain to DS1 that so and so got hurt "Look, your brother is crying, he got hurt" as I make sure the baby is okay. Then I say "what can we do to help him feel better?" Usually DS1 is hiding somewhere feeling bad. So I may encourage him by letting him know we can work this out. "I know you feel bad, I want to help us all feel better". I make suggestions like "We could give the baby kisses to help him feel better, or a hug, or tell him we are sorry" By this time DS1 is usually out of his hiding place and helping me hug and kiss the baby.

If we are out somewhere and this happens with a kid we don't really know I would take DS aside and talk with him about how the other kid might feel. Then I would suggest that we go together to help the kid feel better. He is too scared and intimidated to do it alone, and I think that is way to much to expect at his age. He needs someone to show him what to do. Scary things are easier with a friend.

There are lots of times where he takes it upon himself to give someone a hug when they are sad. It is harder for him to do that, though, when he feels guilty when he is the one who did the hurting. It is obviously uncomfortable for him. A lot of times if I show him that he hurt someone he will go on his own to make it better. It may just take longer if I don't push it. But within a few minutes, after standing back and watching, he will go try to make things right by giving the other kid a toy, or trying to make them smile in some way.

I hope this all came out in a way that makes sense...as usual I am naking.
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#14 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 09:16 AM
 
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So we talk a lot about how the other person feels when something goes wrong. Sometimes she gets it, sometimes she doesn't. But little by little she is moving to a place where she can put herself in someone else's shoes without prompting.
I admit, that sometimes I fall into the "forced apology" trap - especally when around my IL's or another parent. It's hard when, as a parent, you are expected to make your child say that they are "sorry". However, I make a big effort to try to explain that "hitting/stepping on/accidents hurt people....is your friend ok?" and then you see the light bulb go off in the little kids head!

I agree that forced apologies accomplish nothing. If someone isn't sorry, they aren't sorry. And with a child, sometimes they simply aren't. They may have wronged a playmate, but in thier mind it might feel ok because that playmate wronged them earlier.
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#15 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 09:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sdm1024 View Post
I agree that forced apologies accomplish nothing.
We didn't do forced apologies, because it set up a huge battle. But I don't think it is true that forced apologies accomplish nothing. I think receiving an apology, sincere or not, can make the injured party feel better. There is a wide range of "forced" and "insincere", of course....and I'm not talking about the "apologize or get spanked" and "I'm sorry, ok! " end of the spectrum......I am talking about the "We apologize when we hurt someone. You need to say you are sorry." and "I'm sorry. " middle of the spectrum. I've seen that kind of "insincere" (because the young child doesn't really "get" it) help the injured child lots of times--although my own dd would never say it
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#16 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 09:58 AM
 
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I don't like the way forced apologies usually work out. We used to play with a little girl who would do unpleasant things to the other children, then her mom would insist she apologize, and she would say in a totally insincere, sing-song voice, "Sooo-rrrry!" and trot off. And then go right back to being mean to the other kids. It made me furious. Certain kids quickly learn that they can do whatever they like as long as they apologize afterwards. And our prisons are full of people who swear they'll "never do it again", right?

But...I do ask my own kids to apologize to each other. I ask them to consider how their sibling is feeling when they do something hurtful to them. Sometimes it takes a while before they process the feelings and are able to empathize, but eventually they can sincerely express caring for their sibling. To me, an apology is about truly recognizing the other person's feelings, letting them be seen and heard and respected as a loved one. If my husband accidentally dropped something heavy on my foot and hurt me, I would certainly expect him to demonstrate that he feels for me. I think there is a difference between shaming a child into apologizing, and teaching them to walk in someone else's shoes and affirm the other's feelings through an apology.

There is also something I've noticed about some adults who, as children, were shamed into making apologies OR were never made to apologize. Both types often grow up to be adults who will NOT admit that they are ever wrong. Either they are so filled with shame when they make mistakes, that they cannot bear to lose face and admit they did something wrong. Or, the ones who were never made to think they did something wrong tend to have no conscience, to think that they simply don't make mistakes or have to answer to anyone.

I don't want to shame my kids when they hurt someone, but I do want them to realize that they are human, that humans make mistakes and bad choices sometimes, and that they can face up to their mistakes with dignity and self respect. And make a plan to make ammends or resolve their mistake, if possible.
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#17 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 05:24 PM
 
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I never force apologies but I'm sure to apologize myself if I have done something that had an effect I wasn't hoping for. If my ds hurts me by accident he sometimes says he's sorry, sometimes he says "are you ok?" and honestly I often would rather have that.

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#18 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 05:44 PM
 
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just want to say this is a great thread. There is a lot to learn here. Thanks for posting, OP. Helped me gain even more perspective as well.

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#19 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 06:51 PM
 
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I think it's possible to suggest a child apologize w/o making it forced. I have told both DD and DS that saying they are sorry to another might help that other feel a little better (after pointing out how hurt or uspet the other is). I do think asking another for forgiveness is very important, even if you do not think you are in the wrong and even if you stand behind the action...one can be sorry for the effect the action had. KWIM. I think a lot of folk have problems b/c they don't know how to admit they are wrong and/or ask for forgiveness. My feelings about forced apolgies still stand of course. I think that sincere apologies, like polite "please" and "thank yous" come more from modeling than by insisting. My DS tends to be very polite w/ "please" and "thank you" and we've never insisted on it. We just model. Likewise, when anybody is hurt, he tends to get concerned and ask if the other person is okay. Usually, he'll offer a hug and kiss too.

Now, if only I could convince my DH to take the "please" and "thank yous" as evidence that the children will indeed learn to apologize and make amends w/o our forcing the issue. If we model the behaviour, they will learn. To be fair, I think it's more of a knee jerk reaction rather than something he thinks out each time he says it.
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#20 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 07:00 PM
 
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I haven't read any replies yet, but here's my $0.02.

First of all, I don't make my kids say "I'm sorry", because I've been on the receiving end of too many forced apologies and they make me feel like crap. If somebody gets off on hurting my feelings, making him/her apologize doesn't change them, but it does affect how I feel about it. I feel worse. Hearing "I'm sorry" from someone who doesn't mean it doesn't make me feel any better.

I also don't make my kids say "I'm sorry", because I've known too many people who think it's a get out of jail free card. They just have to say "I'm sorry" and whatever they've done is wiped away, and they can start all over again with being nasty, rude, inconsiderate or whatever. The phrase is just so meaningless from so many people.

Mostly, though - I want my kids to want to say "I'm sorry" because they are sorry. I want my kids to realize that they've hurt someone's feelings or caused pain or inconvenience. I want them to own that. If dd hurts ds2 (it happens - she's pretty volatile), I point out that he's crying and talk to her about why he's crying and how she feels about that. Quite often, she'll decide on her own to give him a kiss and say, "sorry, Evan", because she realizes that he's sad. That's what I want to nurture in dd. I have no interest in nurturing the belief that it's okay to treat people like crap, as long as you say "I'm sorry" afterwards. IMO, that's all that forced apologies teach anyone.

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#21 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 07:30 PM
 
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I totally agree with "making amends." I've also read about asking "curiosity questions."

Example: "Why is Mary crying?" "What do you think you could do to make her feel better?"

DD will usually apologize or tell me they could take turns with the toy she took away, etc.
They also learn through example. If they see you apologize, they are more likely to do so themselves, imo. I really think it is possible to teach them to apologize without forcing them to.
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#22 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 09:10 PM
 
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I have to admit, we do "forced" apologies...
I see it as part of the lesson on manners - there are certain rules for things we say in certain cirucmstances, whether we really mean it or not.
When our body makes a noise (ie burp or fart), we say excuse me.
When we do something that makes someone say "ow", we say I'm sorry. (It doesn't matter if it was on purpose or on accident. So many older kids balk at saying sorry "because it was an accident")
I know that at 2.5yo, it's too young to expect real empathy. But I do think that at this age, he can understand that he needs to acknowledge that it was his action that caused the "ow".
We are now working on the rule that says if you are about to do something that you know will make someone say ow, don't do it.
FWIW - the only people he seems to practice the "sorry" rule and it's limits on are me and DP.
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#23 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by cinnamongrrl View Post

There is also something I've noticed about some adults who, as children, were shamed into making apologies OR were never made to apologize. Both types often grow up to be adults who will NOT admit that they are ever wrong. Either they are so filled with shame when they make mistakes, that they cannot bear to lose face and admit they did something wrong. Or, the ones who were never made to think they did something wrong tend to have no conscience, to think that they simply don't make mistakes or have to answer to anyone.
It sounds like you're conflating "never made to apologize" with "never apologized," and I think they're two entirely different things. I'm another who never made my child apologize, but she certainly does apologize, and always has... honestly, she has nicer manners than I do. I think modeling had something to do with it, and also empathizing...

I am concerned about the issue of over-apologizing, which is especially a problem for women, IME. I've known quite a few women who apologize automatically, even for things that weren't their responsibility at all. Some men in our society try to blame problems on women, and rather than automatically apologizing, I think women need to think about what happened and decide if an apology is truly in order - and if not, they need to stand up for themselves.

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#24 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 09:50 PM
 
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I don't force apologies with my kids. After all, I only say I'm sorry when I actually am. There are plenty of times when I'm not sorry for something I've said or done, and I will not apologize . . . so why should my kids do it if they aren't sorry?

My five year old took a long time to start apologizing on her own, but now she does -- when she is sorry. Regardless, if she intentionally hurts someone, she has to take a break from being around people until she can be kind again . . . that's the logical consequence. The natural consequence is that sometimes, the other person doesn't want to be around her for awhile (and it could happen that they might never want to be around her again).

My two year old doesn't say sorry yet, but he is more empathetic than his sister ever was, and he will give hugs if you tell him that he hurt someone. I have a feeling he will start using the words when he has them.

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#25 of 77 Old 03-21-2008, 11:21 PM
 
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Interesting thread. I've personally always lumped "I'm sorry" in with the general manners category, like please, thank you, and excuse me. But this thread has me thinking. My daughter has been empathetic practically from birth. She's always very concerned when she does something that hurts another person. When her brother came along, it threw a wrench in things. He's so different. I never thought that empathy was something to be taught, but you guys are giving me hope for my son. He doesn't apologize. He doesn't seem to have remorse when he pulls my hair or hits his sister. Mind you he's only two, but I know my daughter was apologizing at his age, so I wasn't sure how to deal with it.

I have been forcing apologies between them when they fight, but maybe this isn't the best approach. It certainly hasn't accomplished anything with my son. He'll say a quick "I'm sorry", and then immediatly bite his sister again.
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#26 of 77 Old 03-22-2008, 05:22 AM
 
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We don't force apologies (or any other verbal habits). It's all about modeling, and now that he's mostly "got it," prompting.

Does he apologize? Definitely. I remember getting on a crowded bus one time with my toddler DS on my back in the Ergo, and as we worked our way down the aisle to somewhere we could stand comfortably, this little tiny voice on my back was saying "Excuse me... I'm sowwy... excuse me... I'm sowwy..." as we jostled past. ;-) When he started to "get" that "I'm sorry" was a response to bumping into something, he'd apologize to the sidewalk after falling and skinning his knee! It took a while for him to get the context, but eventually, he understood how it worked.

Most recently, I had it confirmed that he really had the concept when he fell asleep nursing on my lap (a very rare event these days), and as he drifted off, he clamped down a little with his teeth and I gasped in pain. My ASLEEP three-year-old mumbled "I'm sorry." ;-)

When he's wrapped up in things, he doesn't always notice that he bumped into someone or stepped on someone's toes or whatever. I point it out to him, so that he can gain more self-awareness, and then ask him, "Do you want to/can you apologize?" at which point he pretty much always does. If he notices that he accidentally bumped into someone, he will turn around and say "Oops sorry!" immediately.

Now, if he does something more deliberate, he's less likely to spontaneously apologize. That's when we get into the whole conversation about how our actions affect other people, and we talk about problem-solving and making amends. I don't often even get into the verbal apologies for those situations, and instead focus on addressing the issue that led to the conflict.

Another thing that I see as related... my son is a pretty empathetic kid, and aware of other people's feelings and distress. I think that the whole issue of apologizing and making amends is part of a larger category of teaching appropriate responses to others' negative feelings. So, if someone's feeling sad or in pain or whatever for reasons that have NOTHING to do with him, and he's noticing for whatever reason, we try to give him an appropriate action to help comfort the person. For example, we were at Disneyland with a group of friends, all adults but our son, and one (C) developed a migraine headache. Now, earlier in the day, C had been interacting with DS a lot, and DS had gotten in the habit of pointing stuff out to him and asking for feedback. ;-) So we had to explain that C didn't really feel like talking because his head hurt very bad. DS seemed kind of distressed by this, so we suggested he might give C a hug to help him feel better, which he thought was a great idea. A couple days later, our friend told me that was the highlight of the whole day for him... so it worked for everyone!
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#27 of 77 Old 03-22-2008, 05:40 AM
 
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i don't do forced apologies.

here is what i usually do:

me: what happened? (very calm voice, actually calm voice all the way through)
dd: i pushed her, i snatched it out of her hand etc...
me: why?
dd: because she was in my way, i wanted to play with the toy etc...
me: do you know that you've hurt her? that's why she is crying. when you pushed her she fell over and hurt her leg.
dd: oh
me: if she is in your way, you need to ask her to move nicely and i model it out "can you please move so that i can...." or if it was the toy scenario, i remind her that she can either ask the child if she can have it or she needs to wait till that child is finished playing with the toy as she would not like it if the toy was snatched out of her hand.
dd: ok
me: can you please help the girl back up? or give her the toy back? i think it will make her feel better.
dd: *helps child* usually spontaneously says something like "i'm sorry. are you ok? let me give you a hug."



my children have lovely manners and it's always complimented on. i am a big believer in manners and i am also a big believer in manners being modelled and taught through modelling exclusively. my 3yo will spontaneously say "please, thank you (very, very much!) and your welcome". even our 15mo said thanks to me the other day and now says please when she wants something. forcing does nothing. i did forced apologies as a child. sometimes i wanted to belt the child instead of saying sorry to them... i never felt heard in those instances and it was sooo unfair that *i* had to say sorry. won't be doing that in this generation of my family.
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#28 of 77 Old 03-22-2008, 03:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alegna View Post
IMO it is meaningless to make a child SAY they're sorry if they're not sorry. Doesn't teach anything I'm interested in teaching.

I'm much more interested in teaching empathy so that my child will actually BE sorry if they do something that hurts someone else. So we talk a lot about how the other person feels when something goes wrong. Sometimes she gets it, sometimes she doesn't. But little by little she is moving to a place where she can put herself in someone else's shoes without prompting.

A forced apology is meaningless. IMO it's much worse to have a glaring, obviously NOT sorry kid mumble "sorry" than just to move on at that time.

-Angela
As usual, Angela captured my thoughts better than I could have done.

Also, I find forced apologies to be shaming.

I model apologizing to my daughter by being swift to do so when I wrong her or someone else. No one ever apologized to *me* when I was a child, and I think it made it hard for me to learn to do so myself. So I hope that by apologizing to dd when I lose my cool or yell that she will learn it is okay to admit our mistakes and that this helps us heal and move on from them.
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#29 of 77 Old 03-22-2008, 04:54 PM
 
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Children learn to apologize by observing parents and siblings. My two-year-old already says "I'm sorry" when she hurts someone accidentally, and we never made her do that. She just sees that that's what we do.
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#30 of 77 Old 03-24-2008, 02:25 AM
 
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I'm one of those people who always falls over backwards with the "I'm sorry" 's. I think sometimes this is self-effacing and detrimental to myself.

What this means is that, when my child has hurt someone in the usual tussle that young 'uns can get into, I feel this overwhelming need to apologize. I have in the past been hard on my DD about apologizing but then I realized that it was my own issue.

I don't need to apologize for my child's behaviour. But some wise friends pointed out that I can apologize in a genuine way. Example "I'm sorry your feelings got hurt" or "I'm real sorry you got hurt like that". It has helped me feel better by acknowledging the situation without going overboard and apologizing for my child's actions.

It also serves as good modelling for the kids, which I believe in 100%. My kids don't issue automatic pleases and thankyous. Sometimes I cringe when I think they're leaving a bad impression, but so many many other times they just spontaneously erupt with such genuine gratitude and thanks to people that it makes my heart swell...genuine apologies are the same in my books.

Oh, we do talk often however of what apologies are, and how they affect other people.

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