How many times have you apologized through gritted teeth and an eye roll, just to save some grace in a social or worse professional situation. As adults, we are so conditioned to apologize that “I’m sorry” often comes out of our mouths without even noticing. Additionally, we all know the over-apologizer. These people apologize for absolutely everything, even things that absolutely don’t require an apology. Then, we have the opposite. The adults who tend to blame everyone, and/or everything but themselves and rarely take ownership for their actions. It takes a true stable adult to know when and how to apologize appropriately. So, how do we as parents lay the foundations for empathy which leads to recognizing when an apology is necessary without losing self-respect by placing self-blame and over apologizing?
Stop forcing kids to apologize!
Instead, encourage self-reflection in children. Have conversations with them about the situations and ask them to reflect on how those around them are feeling. In the heat of the moment they may not be ready to or feel comfortable making a move to rectify the situation and parents should allow that to be okay. Give them time, then revisit. Even children can sense a forced apology and that will only confuse the situation further. We want the children to develop real relationships, real emotions, real understanding, and real empathy and this is not accomplished by forcing an apology. Respect the various ways that kids may decide to rectify the situation. Hugs and high fives are also acceptable ways to make peace and they should all be encouraged and accepted.
Raising confident, kind, and empathetic tiny humans takes a whole lot of work (&wine!) So cheers to the journey mamas!
The Winey Mama