Q: How can I get my seven-year-old to apologize and mean it? When we tell her to apologize, she won’t; then she often has a huge tantrum. When I ask her about it, she says she doesn’t like saying sorry and would rather hug me instead. Should I focus less on the “sorry”?
A: There is no point making children say they are sorry when they don’t really mean it. On the other hand, hurting others is simply not OK. Rather than focusing on the apology, it’s important to find out what’s behind your daughter’s behaviour and figure out what she can do to make it up to whomever she has hurt. Through making amends, she’ll learn that she needs to reconcile with people when she’s been rude or nasty and that apologizing is only part of the solution. For example, if she breaks her sister’s toy, she needs to replace it by buying another or giving her sister something of hers. If she was rude, she should play nicely with her.