Rather than forc­ing your tween to say “sorry” grudg­ingly and with­out con­vic­tion, DR RICHARD C. WOOLF­SON of­fers a smarter so­lu­tion to deal­ing with sin­cere apolo­gies.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

So your tween is #sor­rynot­sorry for her wrong act? Learn how you can get her to apol­o­gise sin­cerely in­stead.

Even if your child apologises for some­thing she has done, you may feel that she isn’t sin­cere, that she only said the words be­cause she knows that’s what you want to hear.

That’s why you should dis­cuss the prob­lem with her rather than sim­ply in­sist that she says those two sim­ple words. Say­ing “sorry” should come af­ter­wards.

Ex­plain why you think her be­hav­iour is un­ac­cept­able. Maybe she shouted at her younger brother un­nec­es­sar­ily, per­haps you caught her watch­ing her tablet long af­ter she told you she had put it away and was work­ing on her home­work, or it could be that she was cheeky to you when you asked her to tidy her room.

What­ever the of­fence, chat with her about her ac­tions and talk about their im­pact on you and on any­one else in­volved. She’s less likely to re­peat that be­hav­iour in the fu­ture if she un­der­stands what she has done wrong.

The blame game

not her. For in­stance, she might say that she pushed her friend be­cause he pushed her first, or that she took a pen­cil from her class­mate’s bag be­cause she thinks that same pupil took a pen­cil from her bag ear­lier in the day.

And these ex­pla­na­tions may even be ac­cu­rate. Lis­ten to what she has to say, let her see that you un­der­stand her per­spec­tive, and then make it clear that two wrongs don’t make a right.

Tell her clearly, calmly and firmly that even if she feels her re­tal­i­a­tion was jus­ti­fied and that she was a vic­tim too, that is not an ex­cuse for her an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour.

En­cour­age your pri­mary schooler to make amends if there has been phys­i­cal dam­age. For ex­am­ple, if she messed up her younger sib­ling’s bed­room be­cause she was an­noyed with him, she could tidy it up.

Or if she care­lessly broke an or­na­ment, she could con­trib­ute some of her pocket money to­wards its re­place­ment.

Mak­ing amends is not about pun­ish­ment, it is about forg­ing a con­nec­tion in your child’s mind be­tween her be­hav­iour and its con­se­quences. The closer that this phys­i­cal demon­stra­tion of her re­gret is to the mis­be­haviour, the bet­ter.

This type of repa­ra­tion isn’t al­ways pos­si­ble, but when the op­por­tu­nity arises, en­cour­age her to do it.

Mak­ing amends is not about pun­ish­ment, it is about forg­ing a con­nec­tion in your child’s mind be­tween her be­hav­iour and its con­se­quences.

Say it like you mean it

Af­ter she has re­paired any dam­age she has done, her apol­ogy is likely to be more sin­cere than it might be if it was sim­ply a knee-jerk re­ac­tion to your anger. The most ef­fec­tive apolo­gies are the ones that demon­strate her broader un­der­stand­ing.

For ex­am­ple, you’ll feel bet­ter if she says “I’m sorry for up­set­ting you. I didn’t mean to be rude, and I won’t do it again” rather than just say­ing, “I’m sorry.” Help your child for­mu­late her apol­ogy if she strug­gles to find the words.

Once she has ex­pressed re­morse, draw a line un­der that episode and move on. How­ever, point out to your tween that you’ll re­ally be con­vinced by her apol­ogy when you see that she doesn’t do the same again in fu­ture.

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