Updated: May 1, 2020
Rather than forcing an apology, develop your child's appreciation for how their actions impact those around them by assigning a consequence that's all about being kind.
Yesterday, I blogged about the importance, as parents, of recognizing our failures and taking responsibility for them by apologizing to our kids. I promised in that blog to address the question about teaching our kids the value of apologies.
Overall, my guiding principle is this: an insincere apology can be worse than the original offense. With that in mind, forcing kids to apologize for their failures with us or with each other, runs the risk of teaching them that they can absolve themselves of hurtful words and actions simply by saying, "I'm sorry" and moving on. Yes, kids, like us, do need to recognize when they've gone too far and said or done something in anger that has been hurtful to another person. It's an essential part of developing social skills and empathy. And, it is critical to us raising decent humans. But, to really get it, our kids need to feel apologetic and let's face it, they don't feel it anymore than we do some of the time. When this is the case, I recommend a different tack.
Rather than forcing the apology, develop your child's appreciation for how their actions impact those around them by assigning a consequence that involves them in addressing the needs of the one they offended. For example, if your son or daughter insults their sibling repeatedly, assign them a chore normally delegated to that sibling. Or if she threw the remote at you and is struggling with apologizing, she has to do something nice for you like putting your dishes in the dishwasher after meals that day. You get the idea?
It is likely that as the weeks drag on and we are spending extra time together under scary and uncertain circumstances. tensions are running high. Using these strategies might help everyone stay true, above all else, to being kind.