Monday, May 21, 2012

I'm sorry.....or am I?

      I recently came across an article on Yahoo called, "5 Things Parents Shouldn't Say to Their Kids"I was pretty curious about what those 5 forbidden things were that we evidently shouldn't be telling our kids, so I couldn't resist clicking and reading. I have to admit, this list was not what I expected. A few of these are no-brainers for anyone who has an ounce of common sense. The others actually surprised me. I know I'm not the only parent who has threatened to leave the house without my kids because they weren't cooperating. I'm also not the only person who has told her kid to act her age. If you could see the fits my 7 year-old can pitch, you would tell her to stop acting like a toddler and start acting like a 7 year-old, too! [I hope] we all know not to tell our children, "I don't care." Their little minds just don't understand the flippant use of those three words. Adults can throw that phrase around carelessly since we understand social cues and can differentiate between the many ways it can be used. Saying it to a child can truly hurt his feelings on a deeper level.
      What threw me for a loop was the one that said, "Say you're sorry."  I've always believed that you should encourage your children to apologize when they do something wrong or say something hurtful. I do make my kids apologize when they say something hurtful, hit each other, etc... It has always been my opinion that if you teach them to apologize after they do something wrong, they will form the habit of doing so. Although, even as I type this it sounds as if I'm encouraging a habit, like washing their hands, and not teaching them to sincerely apologize.
      Just two days ago, my girls were wrestling on the couch. Middle A got excited and bit Big A on the cheek. Middle A immediately got sent to time-out for her standard 2-minutes. For those of you who aren't aware, one minute for each year of your child's age is the recommended length of a time-out.  When Middle A's time-out was finished, we had a talk about why it's not okay to bite and I told her to apologize to Big A. Middle A walked over to her, gave her a hug and a kiss, and said, "Sorry for biting you, Big A."  Yes, I did tell her to apologize, but she understands what an apology is. When you hurt someone, just saying sorry doesn't fly in my house. You have to tell the person why you're sorry when you apologize and give them a hug to help them feel better.

     Middle A has picked up cues on understanding when to apologize as well. I'm a minimal footwear kind of person. I hate winter because I have to wear socks and shoes. I'm a total flip-flop freak. Unfortunately for me, toddler feet tend to weigh about 15 lbs each when they're wearing tennis shoes. Middle A steps on my toes all.the.time. When I say, "Ouch!", Middle A immediately replies with, "Sorry, Mom!" and gives me a hug and kiss. That shows me that she has more or less grasped the meaning, or at least knows when to say sorry.

      I happen to think that teaching your children to apologize when they have done something wrong is the right way to handle things. By ‘right’ I mean it’s right for our family. It’s what works best for us. Here are some things that other parents had to say about making your child apologize:

   I think you should make your child apologize. Also, you should make a big deal out of your own apologies to others. Allow your child to see you mess up and allow them to see you apologize. The example you set is more meaningful, than trying to be perfect on front of them. I try to do that as a teacher. If I mess up, I own it and apologize. It sets the stage for meaningful conversation. --Elizabeth, GA
When I was 5 years old, we visited some friends and I took a very small penknife from their toy box and took it home with me. I was sitting on our couch and it fell out. Both my mom and dad saw it and asked where it came from.... they took me all the way back into town that same night and made me walk up to the door by myself and apologize for taking the knife. Never, ever have I taken anything from anybody 50 years later. Best lesson I ever learned. --Mike, TN
I will apologize for him and teach him what he should've done instead, as well as what he can do to fix the situation. I do not force him to apologize. My son is pretty good at offering up hugs if he sees that he made someone sad. --Joanie,  FL
For the things that he understands, he apologizes. If it's beyond his comprehension, I apologize and turn it into a teaching moment. --Gracie, CA
He's too young to fully grasp apologies for certain things. If he hits his brother or the dog I make him apologize. But to kids at the park that he barrels into without looking or cuts in front of on the slide, I do the apologizing. --Sarah, CO

People’s opinions vary widely on any given topic that falls under the subject of parenting. If you ask 10 moms who do the same task or handle the same situation all in a unique way, they will all tell you that their specific way of doing things is the ‘right’ way. I’m a strong believer in the ‘You handle your family, and I’ll handle mine,” method, so I welcome your input, opinions, and methods! Share with me.


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