Teaching your child to apologize is important to many parents. But what about the instances when a child should not apologize?
Maybe someone forced a hug and your child pulled away. Or maybe they simply took a stand for something they believe in but which offended another person.
In certain situations, forcing your child to apologize would undermine their sense of self and their developing social consciousness.
Parents need to teach children how to apologize and how to effectively, and politely stand up for themselves and how to know the difference.
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Talk to them about social issues and help them form their own beliefs. Children are interacting with the world, drawing their own conclusions and developing their belief system.
Providing a space for them to talk about their ideas prepares them to engage with the broader world. What do you think? Why do you think that? Encourage open discussion about social issues in order to start giving them appropriate language to express their thoughts. It is important to have these difficult discussions with honesty, integrity and authenticity.
Talk to them about when they should speak out and stand up for themselves and others if they see someone being hurt, cruelly teased or if they think something is unfair or unjust. The situations may vary depending on your values, but pointing out possible scenarios allows you to talk through appropriate responses.
Teach your child assertiveness and politeness. Once a child begins to grasp their boundaries and beliefs, you can move to teaching them how to stand up for themselves without being rude.
Exercising their manners in emotionally charged situations can be tough for young children; but it is important to teach children to breathe and take a moment before responding.
Then teach them to stand or sit up tall, make eye contact and have good body language and to watch their tone. Teach your child that it’s okay to have an opinion as long as they are delivering their message in a clear, direct way.
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When talking with your child about how to engage, emphasize that name-calling and personal attacks are never acceptable. Don’t forget that you are modeling this behavior for them too, whether it’s a dispute over a car repair bill or talking politics with their aunt.
Intervene when necessary. If you see that the situation isn’t going well and your child is growing hostile or raising their voice. Don’t embarrass your child in that situation but calm them down.
If the adults are strangers or acquaintances, you can wait until later to handle it. When addressing the situation, emphasize that you want them to have an opinion, but how they express their opinion is important.
Teach them to know when and how to concede. If your child did lose their temper or resort to name-calling or if their words were not appropriate or respectful, they may need to apologize.
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But there is a difference between apologizing for how the message was conveyed and apologizing for the message itself. When urging your child to apologize, draw that distinction for them.
While you want your kid to be polite, if another person is yelling or name-calling, it doesn’t mean your child has to stand there and take it. Speaking up is totally valid and so is walking away.