Logical Consequences Grab Bag: Apologies

Source: mylot.com

In our everyday parenting, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with the perfect logical consequence. We always want to strike the balance between teaching a lesson without being too harsh. Over the next few days, in posts with a similar title, I’ll offer a few ideas of logical consequences for common misbehaviors.

What do we do when our kids offer insincere apologies? You know the type. You ask a child to apologize to you for some misbehavior, and rather than look you in the eye and offer a heartfelt apology, he averts his eyes and mumbles the word “sorry.” Sometimes it’s so imperceptible that you’re not sure he even said it. What do you do when this happens? We all know that every form of discipline is done in an effort to teach. Discipline is all about heart training. If we don’t teach them a lesson or reach their hearts, we haven’t done our job.

So what’s the consequence that will reach their hearts? The next time your child apologizes to you, require that he ask for forgiveness. Require him to look in your eye (or the eye of the offended party) and say “sorry” as if he means it. Then have him ask for forgiveness.

It’s too easy for a child to utter a mindless, insincere apology, especially when he doesn’t want to take ownership of whatever it was he did wrong. Nor does he want to put his guilt into the hands of someone else. But these are exactly the reasons why we need to require it. Make no mistake: asking another person to forgive you is a very powerful thing. It tips the scales and requires the offender to give up all power over the situation and put it in the hands of the other person.

My kids took a little while to get used to saying it – and to not confuse the asking of forgiveness with the act of giving it. But it has been a complete game-changer in our house. Whenever a child goes into timeout, or otherwise hurts someone, we require not only an apology but a request for forgiveness. William, in particular, has a tough time with it because he knows how powerful it is to ask someone else to assuage your guilt.

In my house, my kids are required to also say what they are sorry for. So it all goes something like this: “I’m sorry for breaking apart your Lego guy, Lucas. Will you forgive me?” I usually have to coach them through it, which is fine. The other benefit of this trick is that it makes the offended party much more likely to forgive. Lucas is always quick to say “I forgive you” whenever his brother asks for it.

Recently, Lucas hurt William pretty bad, and while Lucas was trying to sort out what he had done, I sent him into the bathroom for a timeout. When he was done and had apologized to ME (he hurt my son), he was required to apologize to William and ask for his forgiveness. William was very quick to forgive Lucas (even though he had a red mark on his cheek), and they then hugged each other. It was a very sweet, loving moment between my boys. If I had allowed an insincere apology, there’s no way they would have reached this moment of forgiveness.

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