Don’t Force an Apology


Most of us remember a moment like this when we were a kid…

We hurt our sibling or take a toy from another child at the park causing them to get upset, then the parents come over and tell us to “Say you’re sorry!”

While, in theory this is absolutely the right response - we wronged someone else and need to make amends to repair the relationship. YET, if you are forcing someone to say something they don’t really feel or believe then it can cause issues later on. Children then internalize that when they make a mistake or harm someone that “Well, I don’t really mean the words I am saying, so when someone else apologizes to me they probably don’t mean it either.”

What are some alternative ways we can help teach children - and ourselves - to make amends when we aren’t feeling remorseful?

Offer suggestions:

You could help her up

You can give him a hug

You can ask them to play with you

You could draw them a picture

You can give him the toy back

These are elementary options but it translates to a larger picture of doing something out of our authentic selves as opposed to being told we “should” do something. Over time, it will also feel more natural as opposed to being forced into something.

I want to add the caveat that these are for trivial and middle-of-the-road issues, but that larger long-standing problems should be addressed head on and sorted through. But, I don’t know about you, the smaller ones come up far more often than the big blows do! Hope you find this helpful as you navigate the ins and outs of relationships, both with children and adults.